Cry-Baby (1990) John Waters

Production Budget: $11 million

Gross: $8 million

This movie used to be the favorite movie of my ex-girlfriend. Keep in mind this is the woman who hasn’t seen such little known movies as Star Wars or any of the Indiana Jones movies. I had not seen it before, but I figured now was as good a time as any. Of course don’t think that just because I have broken up with my girlfriend that it will have any influence on my review. Okay, let’s get this piece of donkey dick out of the way…

Cry-Baby is both a parody and an homage to 50’s rebellion movies. Just by looking at the cover you get the vibe of a Grease type movie and it would be Grease probably as told through the strange mind of John Waters. The movie is about square Alison falling for Drape gang bad boy Cry-Baby Walker (Johnny Depp). The squares don’t like the match up and put Walker in juvenile detention to try to keep them separated. As I mentioned this movie feels part homage and part parody. The homage comes in by way of the musical portion of the movie. The soundtrack is great and harkens back to the Elvis type movies it tries to mimic. But the parody comes in with Waters’ own statements of 1950’s culture. Hell, most of the comedy comes from making fun of the “square” culture and applauding the drapes for being who they really are.

It is strange that I have seen so many movies and this is actually the first time I have seen a John Waters film. Truth be told I can’t really say why I haven’t gotten around to them. It is not so much that I avoid them but I have not really been interested in seeing anything he had to offer up till now. I have put off reviewing this movie for a few days because I am still trying to really wrap my head around why I didn’t really love this movie. Because if I went down the line of the different aspects of the movie, I would say most are good. I absolutely loved the soundtrack and found the musical numbers to be the most enjoyable parts. I also found Johnny Depp to be very entertaining in his parody of the bad boy with the tortured soul.

I guess if I can come up with a complaint it is that it doesn’t feel like a movie, but a string of Saturday Night Live sketches. There really is no plot to this movie and it feels like we just go from one silly scenario to another. Cry-Baby goes to the dance, Cry-Baby goes to juvie, Cry-Baby goes racing, and so on. I was about a third of the way through the movie and I was wondering if there was going to be any point to it. There are no real characters with any motivation or depth. Instead we have caricatures who are just mugging for the camera. Again, it feels like a ten minute comedy sketch and not a 90 minute film. It was the strangest experience I’ve had watching a movie in quite some time. As I said I was loving the music and I was laughing occasionally, but at the same time I kept staring at the clock seeing how much time I had left. The movie seemed shallow and I ended up rather wanting the soundtrack instead of the DVD.

This review is probably going to come down to a matter of personal taste. I admit I probably am being a little unfair judging this movie by what it is not, instead of what it is. This movie has become a cult classic on DVD and I can see why people like it so much. It is a silly little blast to the past with some great young talent and a killer soundtrack. Overall though, this movie just wasn’t my cup o’ tea. Although, it did make me interested to check out Water’s other musical Hairspray.

 

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