Cry-Baby Review

A good girl square who desperately wants to be bad falls for a crooning Dean-like bad-boy who gets sent to juvie.

by Jo Berry |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Jan 1990

Running Time:

85 minutes



Original Title:


It is unlikely that supporters of the John Waters' school of bad taste - those among you who relished every disgusting moment of Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble - will quite be prepared for Cry-Baby, easily the Pope Of Trash's most mainstream up tom Serial Mom which followed. Anyone, however, who has studiously avoided the more notorious of Waters' films is likely to be pleasantly surprised at this original, well played and blackly humourous piece of entertainment that only occasionally shows any evidence of the director's penchant for more outrageous behaviour.

Johnny Depp - who was at the time a major teen heart-throb in the US thanks to his role in the TV series 21 Jump Street - successfully parodies his real-life image in his role here as Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker, a hip "drape" from the wrong side of the tracks in 50s Baltimore who falls for "square" Allison Vernon-Williams (Locane).

The ensuing madness of Drapes versus Squares (with Waters' regulars Ricki Lake and Mink Stole plus notorious names like Iggy Pop, Troy Donahue and the Patty Hearst) moves from the Drapes' Jukebox Jamboree where Cry-Baby teaches Allison to French kiss amid much exaggerated tongue-waving to an unusual version of that old favourite, the chicken race. On his way through this merry romp - peppered with some splendid dialogue ("You've made me the happiest juvenile delinquent in Baltimore!") and great period tunes - Waters sends up every 50s movie from Grease to Jailhouse Rock, with Depp well cast as his hollow-cheeked Presley.

The supporting cast are equally impressive, most notably first-time actress Amy Locane as the square who is transformed into a vamp and Kim McGuire as the appropriately-named Hatchet-Face ("Her face was her fortune - and she was broke!"). Great stuff, in a pleasantly distasteful sort of way.

Peppered with fun-to-spot cameos (can you spot Williem Dafoe?), the parody-satire script works well with Depp's adept handling of the titular bad boy. A delinquent joy-ride, though without the Hard-core distaste of previous Waters flicks, which may or may not be a bad thing.
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