By Sarah Khan
ANDPOP’s Sarah Khan hopes to expand your film repertoire as she tackles some of the best little known films in the new bi-weekly column, “Blink And You’ll Miss It.” This week, she tells you why John Waters’ Cry-Baby is one film you shouldn’t overlook.
What It Is: John Waters’ Cry-Baby, an over-the-top parody of teen musicals like Grease, starring Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Stephen Mailer, Iggy Pop and a whole assortment of actors you’d only find together in a John Waters’ film.
The movie tells the story of Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) a goody-goody square who is “tired of being good” and her romance with Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker (Johnny Depp), an orphaned and misunderstood juvenile delinquent. The two have to face the disapproval of Allison’s conservative grandmother and overbearing boyfriend, Baldwin (Stephen Mailer), who will stop at nothing to ensure his perfect life in Suburbia with Allison.
Why You Probably Missed It: John Waters’ work has never really been box office gold because it’s usually too bizarre and absurd for most people’s tastes. This movie is pretty low on the crazy-level compared to other Waters’ films, but it’s still pretty bizarre and hilariously corny.
At the time of its release in 1990, Johnny Depp was not yet the massive Hollywood star he is today since the movie was released just months before Johnny’s star-making role in Edward Scissorhands. The rest of the cast were relative unknowns in the world of A-list movies, so the movie had no star power whatsoever.
Also, by this point in his career, Waters was already pretty well known as the “King of Sleaze.” Despite also being the mastermind behind 1988’s Hairspray, audiences only knew him as the guy behind Pink Flamingoes where drag queen Divine voluntarily eats dog shit. Waters pretty much decided early on that he was going to be a cult king and he’s been extremely successful in this endeavor. Unfortunately, it means that some of his hilarious gems of movies have been brushed under the rug.
Why You Should See It: There is no excess of filth in this movie and the most cringe-worthy part of it is the fact that Cry-Baby’s grandmother (Susan Tyrrell) is in a relationship with her son, Belvedere (Iggy Pop). Other than that, the movie pokes fun not only at the unrealistic melodrama in many teens movies, but at the stereotypical characters often present in those movies (the good girl, the slut, the bad boy, the disapproving parent/guardian etc.).
The movie also features some super catchy songs and cameos by some of John Waters’ go-to actors including Mink Stole, as well as heiress and former bank robber, Patty Hearst. There’s even a cameo by Willem Defoe as a sadistic jail guard!
While most will argue that Depp’s Willy Wonka or Jack Sparrow are his best and most memorable roles, you’ll likely change your mind when you see him strum his guitar and gyrate his hips as Cry-Baby Walker!
Watch the trailer for Cry-Baby below: