Cry-Baby

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1954 Baltimore, Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker is the leader of a gang of “Drapes”, which includes his sister Pepper, a teenage mother, Mona “Hatchet Face” Malnorowski, who is facially disfigured, Wanda Woodward, a wild and free-spirit, and Milton Hackett, the nervous son of overzealous religious activists. His ability to shed a single tear drives all the girls wild. One day after school, he is approached by Allison Vernon-Williams, a pretty girl tired of being a “square”, and the two fall in love. That same day, Cry-Baby approaches the “square” part of town to a talent show (“Sh-Boom”, “A Teenage Prayer”) at the recreation center where Allison’s grandmother hosts events, and introduces himself to her, who is skeptical of his motives. Cry-Baby invites Allison to a party at Turkey Point, a local hangout spot for the drapes.

Despite her grandmother’s skepticism, Allison accompanies Cry-Baby to Turkey Point and sings with the drapes (“King Cry-Baby”). As Cry-Baby and Allison tell each other about their orphan lives (Cry-Baby’s father was sent to the electric chair after being the “Alphabet Bomber” – a killer who bombed places in alphabetical order airport, barber shop etc; Allison’s parents always took separate flights to avoid orphaning her if they crashed, but one day both their planes went down), Allison’s jealous square boyfriend, Baldwin, starts a riot. Cry-Baby is blamed for the fight and sent to a penitentiary, outraging all his friends and even Allison’s grandmother, who is impressed by Cry-Baby’s posture, manners, and musical talent.

As Lenora Frigid, a girl with a crush on Cry-Baby but constantly rejected by him, claims to be pregnant with his child, Allison feels betrayed and returns to Baldwin and the squares, though her grandmother advises her against rushing into a decision. Meanwhile, in the penitentiary, Cry-Baby gets a teardrop tattoo. He tells the tattoo artist, fellow drape Dupree (Robert Tyree): “I’ve been hurt all my life, but real tears wash away. This one’s for Allison, and I want it to last forever!”.

Eventually, Allison is persuaded by the newly-established alliance between the Drapes and her grandmother to stand by Cry-Baby and join the campaign for his release (“Please, Mr. Jailer”). Cry-Baby is released but immediately insulted by Baldwin who, after revealing that his grandfather is the one who electrocuted Cry-Baby’s father, challenges him to a chicken race. Cry-Baby wins, as Baldwin chickens out, and is reunited with Allison.

The film ends with all watching the chicken race crying a single tear, all except for Allison and Cry-Baby, who has finally let go of the past, enabling him to cry from both eyes.

REVIEW:

Earlier this year, someone asked me what I thought of Cry-Baby being turned into a Broadway show. Since I hadn’t seen either at the time, I couldn’t really comment. Now, I can at least comment on the film part.

What is this about?

Helmed by director John Waters, this kitschy comedy set in 1950s Baltimore stars Johnny Depp as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, a street hood who falls for a goody-two-shoes girl. The unlikely romance sparks a battle between rival factions.

What did I like?

Humor. This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. John Watters may be known as some kind of creepy weirdo nowadays, bu they guy known how to make an entertaining film. Johnny Depp is the only one who seems to be playing it straight, and that has more to do with the way his character was written. The jokes and humorous situations all poke fun at 50s teen movies. It seems that there is a heavy swing towards the Elvis films, just in terms of music and style, but having never seen any of his films, I can’t really tell you.

Bottom to the top. When it comes to acting, a gig you don’t really want to get into, at least if you have aspirations of having a real career is porn. The number of porn stars to have made it to the big time can be counted on one’s fingers. Hollywood just doesn’t seem to care for them. The roles they tend to earn don’t really give them much credibility. Traci Lords is one of those that looked to break the pattern. While this role isn’t necessarily huge, it was an actual acting gig and showed filmmakers that porn stars can do more than lay on their backs and do various sexual acts.

You gotta do it. Arguably the biggest 50s era film is Grease. Watching the film, you can see nods to it here and there, but the parts that stuck out were the change in the good girl to a “bad girl” near the end and the design og Cry-Baby’s car. It is an almost exact duplication of the Scorpions’ car, but I think they had a convertible.

What didn’t I like?

Confederate flag. This is set in Baltimore, MD, but for some reason at a party, or whatever it was, there is a big Confederate flag. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how divisive this flag is. For me, if it is used for historical purposed, that is fine ,but to just have one up as a random decoration can be a bit offensive, especially in a place that is considered the north. It made no sense to have it in display like that.

Overacting. I know that no one is really taking this film seriously, but there are times throughout this picture, it seems that they aren’t even trying to do anything but exaggerate their lines, Depp being the biggest offender. A John Watters film is not known for subtlety, but good grief! They really could have scaled it back a little bit.

Cry-Baby is a really entertaining musical parody of those teen rockin’ rebel films from the 50s. I think many will actually enjoy it from start to finish, just as I did. While this isn’t a film that everyone should see, it is something that is worth checking out on a weekend when you’re stumped as to what to watch. Give it a shot, sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

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