Released Today: Cry-Baby (1990)
--Oh Cry-Baby, your fingers feel so good!
--I've been saving it up for a girl like you.
What were the audience expecting as the John Waters musical hit the silver screen for the very first time? A beautiful display of teenage romance between two opposing characters? A modern rendition of Romeo and Juliet minus the poison and dagger? 90 minutes of good comedic fun? Surely Cry-Baby has all of that -- what may have been unexpected was not its jokes or its characters. Instead, Cry-Baby had some of the strangest dialogue you'd ever hear, and Johnny Depp, who plays the gorgeous Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker, would definitely agree: he took upon the challenge because he thought the script was "funny and strange." And it is. Its absurdity is overwhelming, really.
The teen flick takes us back --way back-- to 1950s Baltimore, where the goodie two-shoes (squares) were separated from the juvenile delinquents (drapes). Just like many films of the genre, two kids from each opposing side fall in love... and all hell breaks loose. Luckily, this is a story that ends well. Nobody gets severely hurt or brutally murdered (thankfully) and there is even something learned at the very end.
The story follows Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane), a square who is dying to be bad (or like the Cry-Baby girls would rather call her, a "scrape," half square and half drape). Her innocence and glimmering beauty catches Cry-Baby's eye, and the rest of the film focuses on Allison's conversion to the other side, as she tries to dissect the true emotions in her heart. The way the whole plays out is awkward, to say the least. The dialogue leaves you blushing, and hesitating between bursts of laughter and embarrassment. The screenplay is also filled with minor gaps, but it seems that this was a desired effect (and the time was quite limited). At least the characters are quirky and loveable (Wanda played by Tracy Lords is my girl crush!), while some of their looks are questionable--you'll learn to love them anyhow. Oh, and this film reeks of teenage hormones. Every single teen in this film just wants to get it on, and after watching them, you might ask yourself why you're wasting your time sitting alone in front of your computer.
Speaking of questionable looks, a particular character named Mona Malnorowski or Hatchet-Face (played by Kim McGuire) used to scare the crap out of me. After rewatching Cry-Baby, while I clearly understood why, I also began to feel a new love for her. She's crazy, she's spunky, she has a lot of character (like she says), and she does not care what people think of her. Her face does seem like a mess to outsiders, but after a while, it grows on you. And then you fall head over heels for her. Maybe not in the same way as her boyfriend Milton (Darren E. Burrows), but close enough. Just look at her!
Unless you're trying hard to find a serious film, Cry-Baby will let you have a fun time, despite all its absurdities. John Waters did a great job (and proved to possess a large amount of courage) bringing this story to life for his first major studio film. The film was actually popular enough to inspire a musical by the same name. Sadly, the latter didn't run for long, and called it quits after less than two months.
Are you going to sing along to Cry-Baby tonight?
Nathania Wreh is currently a Film Studies student at Concordia University in Downtown Montreal.
Keep track of her via twitter @heyitsnattiie