Release year: 1990
Director: John Waters
Screenwriter: John Waters
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Darren E. Burrows, Kim McGuire, Iggy Pop, Polly Bergen, Susan Tyrerell
It’s 1950’s Baltimore and good-girl Allison (Amy Locane) locks eyes with bad-boy Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker (Johnny Depp). Instantly drawn to him, she questions whether she is a ‘square’ or if she really belongs with Cry-Baby and the ‘drapes’.
John Waters (Hairspray, 1988) has been called Walt Disney for weird kids, and his movies are certainly an acquired taste. Cry-Baby is, however, one of his more mainstream and less ‘dangerous’ features and lots of females will say it benefits from being one of the few movies in which Johnny Depp (Sleepy Hollow, 1999) doesn’t hide his good looks with wigs and makeup. Though Waters’s distinctive style and playfulness shines through in every part of the movie, the storyline is a mainstream standard á la Romeo and Juliet, with a girl and a boy from two different sides of town falling in love and causing a feud between the two groups. Cry-Baby is an intense character with a wonderful sense for drama, a rotten past and burning desire for his girl, and Depp fits him like hand in glove, pretty enough to convince as someone who could win a girl’s heart with one look (and one of the few I could imagine pulling the single-tear-drop-thing of) and eccentric enough to tackle the weirdness without ever losing his audience. Locane’s (Secretary, 2002) role consists mainly of her sighing and swooning over Cry-Baby but she does so brilliantly while looking precisely as sweet and innocent as the part requires. She has her moment to shine during the song ‘Please Mr. Jailer’ in which she almost manages to overshine the star of the movie. The rest of the cast is a wonderful mixture of quirky personalities that help set the movie’s tone and certainly gives it character. The music is great, with the singing voices of Johnny Depp and Amy Locane dubbed by James Intveld and Rachel Sweet, and the movie comes of as an affectionous declaration of love to Baltimore, the 1950’s, and the musical genre. As Waters leaves us no doubt whether his sympathy lies with the squares or the drapes, it also becomes a loving nod of approvement to the outsiders of the world. Love it or hate it, but you have to admit: it is one of a kind!
When John Waters needed to find a young male actor for the movie, he bought $30 worth of teen magazines. All of them had Johnny Depp on the cover.
Picture copyright: UIP