Release Date: April 6th, 1990
Directed by: John Waters
Written by: John Waters
Music by: Patrick Williams
Cast: Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Susan Tyrrell, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Polly Bergen, Kim McGuire, Darren E. Burrows, Mink Stole, Willem Dafoe
Imagine Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 85 Minutes
I’ve been a big fan of John Waters since I was pretty young. Granted, I didn’t see his more vulgar offerings until I was in my late teens but I had a real appreciation for Cry-Baby, Hairspray (the original) and Serial Mom. I just loved the style of the films and the humor was my cup of tea.
I then realized that it has been a long time since I’ve sat down and watched a Waters picture. So I wanted to go back to where it all started for me: 1990’s Cry-Baby.
This was also one of three films that made me a fan of Johnny Depp’s work. The other two films being Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood. Granted, I also love that he’s in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street.
Cry-Baby is a light musical. While I generally don’t like musicals, this one is pretty great in that it uses a 1950s rockabilly style and there isn’t an overabundance of musical numbers.
The story is about Cry-Baby (Depp) and a girl he meets, Allison (played by Amy Locane). They are from opposite sides of the tracks, Cry-Baby essentially being a Greaser and Allison being a Square, which are like the Socs in The Outsiders. The movie is a sort of Romeo and Juliet story with a cool rockabilly soundtrack and a 1950s style. The climax, which sees Cry-Baby and Allison’s Square ex-boyfriend play chicken while on top of the cars, is pretty well done and a really enjoyable finale.
The film also stars a bunch of interesting people. For one, you have Iggy Pop, who I love in everything and wish he had a bit more meat to chew on in this. You also have former underage porn star Traci Lords and Waters regular and future talk show host Ricki Lake. Willem Dafoe even cameos as a pretty hilarious but no nonsense prison guard. The cast also includes a lot of people who worked in several of Waters’ other films.
Cry-Baby is a short and fun movie. It doesn’t need to be more than it is. Ultimately, it is entertaining and not only drums up 80s and 90s nostalgia but it channels the 1950s, so its like a time capsule with triple the goodness.
While this isn’t Waters’ best film, it truly embodies what a Waters film is while being accessible to those that might not want to see a large drag queen eat dog poop.