If by now you have not enjoyed the complete directorial collection of John Waters, it is time for a long Netflix and chill marathon, starting with his seminal 1990 musical, Cry-Baby.
The movie is a snazzy musical about a young boy and girl from different sides of the tracks who fall in love. Wade “Cry baby” Walker is a perceived bad boy “drape”, while Allison is considered to be the perfect debutante lady in the “square” crowd. In a Capulet/Montague situation the pair struggle with their relationship due to the outside forces of their respective cliques, the wider society and their opposing lifestyles.
Reminiscent of 50’s flicks, Waters draws on movies like Jailhouse Rock and Rebel Without A Cause to insert satirical elements into his own comedic stylings. Less of a wink and a nudge, and more a brick upside your head he is not subtle in displaying his references.
Following his mainstream success with Hairspray, this offering plays far safer than his previous works such as Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. However, just like every John Waters movie it is crude, camp and something entirely different to the norm.
As Waters debut musical it plays differently to the type of Broadway products we are used to today as the numbers fit in more authentically for the most part, with the sing-song numbers coming later on once we’ve made a connection with the central characters. In terms of the musical numbers, for the most part they are far cooler than expected for a musical, and fitting to the time period with a 50’s rock edge and slick choreography.
Waters directing was meticulous for a believable throwback from outfits, to cars, to the score, to cheesily dated phrases, everything was congruent to the time period. Colourful, high spirited and fun, the movie is aesthetically pleasing to view and while there were a few questionable choices; what would Waters be if not a risk taker.
As the lead male, Johnny Depp proves his talent early on in his career in the role that helped launch him into a superstar, with good reason. As the bad boy he adds multiple layers and charisma to the character, not to mention his stunning looks. Susan Tyrrell is as quirky as ever, while Iggy Pop’s unexpected role is interesting to say the least. Ricki Lake returns as a pregnant bad girl and while she is capable, we can only see her as the loveable daytime host. The rest of the supporting cast each provide life to their fun characters, and while not incredulous they do their part nonetheless. Kim McGuire is a standout character providing similarities to Waters original muse Divine.
Upon its initial release the flick was a box office bomb, grossing $8,266,343 of its $12 million budget. Despite the poor reception, it was a critical success with outstanding reviews from both professionals and the small audience that did actually see it. As a section of Waters filmography and the ever increasing success of Depp, the film has received a cult audience in the years proceeding
Our Verdict Is: An ode to the teen rebel genre, accept the cliché’s and the quirkiness and enjoy a fantastic comedy with infectious music and arguably the hottest incarnation of Depp.