Considered only the second of Waters' mainstream films (following the iconic 'Hairspray'), 'Cry-Baby' is at once a satire of 1950s teenybopper musicals and a valentine to the genre of young love in the greased-up, hoop-shirted Eisenhower era. Good morning, Baltimore! Or, as John Waters' 1990 cult classic might have rephrased it, "good night" -- for a great deal of 'Cry-Baby' takes place during the dusky hours when 1954 high schoolers fall in love.
Considered only the second of Waters' mainstream films (following the iconic 'Hairspray'), 'Cry-Baby' is at once a satire of 1950s teenybopper musicals and a valentine to the genre of young love in the greased-up, hoop-shirted Eisenhower era.
Johnny Depp, then at the absolute peak of his '21 Jump Street' adulation, plays Wade Walker, a.k.a. Cry-Baby, a foxy dude so sweet looking, so man-pretty, so terminally sensitive that even so much as a tear forming out of the corner of his eye can send the girls into quivering manias of sighs and moans. For the sheer hilarity and sweetness of that idea alone -- but also for Waters' brilliant cast of actors and scandal-plagued notables in minor and major roles -- 'Cry-Baby' is your free movie of the day.
For the record, the title character is part of a gang Waters has amusingly dubbed the Drapes. His wide-eyed love interest, Allison (played by the nearly forgotten Amy Locane,) belongs to a more traditional clique called the Squares. You can pretty much guess what happens to these two, though there's Allison's grandmother, played by the ever-enduring Polly Bergen, to mix things up and help set everything right in the end.
And there are performances by Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Troy Donahue, Mink Stole, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, Patricia Hearst and, as a guard at the penitentiary where Cry-Baby does some not-so-hard time, the one and only Willem Dafoe.
It's true that 'Cry-Baby' didn't exactly do well at the box office back in 1990; it took a few years for the film to go into the black. Given what a cult classic it has become, however, you can assume that Waters isn't shedding a tear.
Watch 'Cry Baby' on SlashControl!