1 August 2005 | onnanob2
Snazzy and fun musical-comedy with John Waters' style.
Don't expect to watch a movie in the style of "Grease" when you watch "Cry-Baby." This is a John Waters musical-comedy, and it's full of his style and humor. John Waters has his own style of directing, and his own style for writing dialogue. The dialogue and acting are usually out of the mainstream norm, and viewers who are not familiar with John Waters may not enjoy his films unless they open their minds to possibilities of silly, ridiculous, vulgar, and campy humor. "Cry-Baby" is set in the 1950's, and it's mainly about two groups of people who don't accept each other: The drapes and the squares. The drapes don't have a lot of money, are more accepting to different types of people, and listen to the hep sounds of rhythm and blues and rockabilly. Some of them get involved with crime, and are juvenile delinquents. The squares are very conservative, have more money, more attitude, and listen to "your hit parade" music. The drapes will hang out with anyone as long as there's a good time to be had, and the squares only socialize with other squares. There is friction and disgust whenever the two types meet. Within this is a love story concerning Cry-Baby and Allison. Cry-Baby is a drape, and Allison is a square tired of being so conservative. Cry-Baby and Allison are attracted to each other, and Allison decides to associate with the drapes. Conflicts emerge, and drapes and squares clash. That sounds clichéd, but the movie has a lot of humor and atmosphere. It's also full of color, spirit, and fun music. The locations and sets create a 1950's atmosphere of small town and rural America. The cars, clothing, and hairstyles are also effective. Sometimes clothes, hairstyles, props, and sets are exaggerated and outrageous, but these are trademarks of John Waters' style and sense of humor. "Cry-Baby" has its charm, and is effective as both a comedy and a musical. The musical numbers are fun and lively, and a lot of care went into making the songs sound authentic to the period. They are also well choreographed. Some of the musical numbers were written for the movie, and a few songs were originally 1950's hits newly recorded for "Cry-Baby" (such as the song that opens the movie, Allison singing "Teenage Prayer," etc.) There are also original vintage recordings throughout the movie (my favorite is "Jungle Drums," by Earl Bostic, which really gives a summer feeling to the Turkey Point location.) The background score is also well done, and professionally orchestrated. This is a John Waters film, and you have to expect unusual characters, and unusual acting and dialogue delivery. The casting of the movie is an interesting mix of performers (another Waters' trademark), and very much a delight. The cast is terrific! Johnny Depp and Amy Locane are wonderful as the teenagers who are attracted to each other, but live in different worlds. Their pairing brings out a believable chemistry, and a sense of fun. Polly Bergen's performance is excellent as the extremely conservative matriarch who finally learns how to have a good time with people who are different. Susan Tyrrell is as offbeat as she can be (see her in the bizarre musical-comedy "Forbidden Zone"), and Iggy Pop is interesting in his role. Ricki Lake returns in her second John Waters movie as Cry-Baby's pregnant sister. Kim McGuire, Darren E. Burrows, and Traci Lords create fun characters who are in Cry-Baby's gang and music group. Kim McGuire has a knack for creating a character who's kookie and bold, and yet deserves sympathy at times. Traci Lords is very good at comedy, and it would be nice to see her in more comedies. She does a great job with her mostly-cranky, tough-girl character. Stephen Mailer does a fine job of creating a character you really learn to loathe. "Cry-Baby" also features small parts played by noted stars such as Troy Donahue, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, David Nelson, Willem Dafoe, and John Waters regular Mink Stole. Patricia Hearst Makes her feature film debut, and is very amusing as the naive mother of a drape daughter. "Cry-Baby" was a lot of fun to watch on the big screen, and I'm again enjoying it since it's been released on DVD (with added scenes that were cut for its theatrical release.) "Cry-Baby" is a snazzy and fun musical-comedy that seems to be pleasing people who are not regular John Waters fans! By the way, I was a scrape (part square, part drape) in high school, but that's a different story from a different era.