Saturday, March 24, 2018

Movie Review: "Cry-Baby" (1990)

Director: John Waters
Year: 1990
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

A 'Drape' juvenile delinquent named Cry-Baby Walker falls for a 'Square' goody two shoes named Allison Vernon-Williams, who is tired of being good. The 'Square' community is not keen on the idea of a 'Drape' dating one of their girls.

He's the king, king Cry-Baby! "Cry-Baby" is written and directed by John Waters, who is responsible for films like "Hairspray" and the controversial "Pink Flamingos." It stars Johnny Depp as the titular Cry-Baby, a 'Drape' juvenile delinquent and poor orphan who can't help but be bad. Joining him is Amy Locaine as Allison, a 'Square' girl who likes bad boy Cry-Baby and is tired of being so good all the time. Cry-Baby also falls for Allison, but the two come from very different worlds and her Square friends and family will not accept Cry-Baby and his crew. Also in the film are Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Polly Bergen, Iggy Pop, and Kim McGuire, just to name a few.

I grew up watching "Cry-Baby," so shout out to my parents for exposing me to the awesomeness that is this film. The weirdness of John Waters is definitely not for everyone. To tell you the truth, it isn't always for us. On this occasion, however, his writing and directing work out just fine. Like many of John Waters' films, "Cry-Baby" deals with class warfare, racism, and embracing people who are outsiders, people who live lives outside of socially common/acceptable norms. This story is all about the delinquent Drapes, who look like Rockabilly greasers from the 1950's. Despite their tendencies towards petty crime, they are more socially accepting of minorities, other groups, and people who look and act differently. Just be sure to ignore all of those Confederate flag decorations draping their events and parties. The Drapes face off against the Squares, the standard, wealthy W.A.S.P. college prep future frat boy/sorority girl crowd. Squares are not at all accepting of minorities and prefer segregation between people of different races and different income classes. When Allison and Cry-Baby get together, all hell breaks loose for these two groups.

Did we mention "Cry-Baby" is a musical? Because it is! Well, sort of. None of the actors actually sing (though Johnny Depp would go on to not only sing in a band but star in the movie version of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"). All of the actors here are lip-syncing to music sung by other people, though this was actually common practice in many classic musicals. Some of the tunes are forgettable, but a good portion of them are catchy, memorable, and fantastic, especially our favorite song "Please, Mr. Jailer." This is not only the best song but also provides one of the best moments of the film including an enthusiastically dancing Polly Bergen. Despite the lip-syncing, all of the actors are wonderful in their roles as this rag-tag group of Drapes and Squares. Johnny Depp gives a fabulous performance in a role many decades before he hit his peak and sold out to the Disney machine.

"Cry-Baby" boasts a lot of offbeat humor and wit, as well as a solid though intentionally over the top performance by a young Johnny Depp. Like most of John Waters' films, this movie won't be for everyone, but we sure as hell love it.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
RT Rating: 73%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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