Cry-Baby (John Waters, 1990)
Earlier this year I made a promess to myself and my readers that I would tackle a list of directors that I’ve never seen a movie they directed. This list includes many great and recognized names : from Maurice Pialat to Ermano Olmi and from Russ Meyer to Glauber Rocha. One of the names on this list that intrigued me the most was John Waters. From his thrash counter culture films of the 1970’s and 1980’s starring the transsexual Divine to his more mainstream pieces like Hairspray and Cry-Baby. At first, I knew it was a Grease parody and a tribute to the teenage exploitation films of the 1950’s. It is also a pastiche of Elvis Prestley movies. After reading these lines one could easily put the label kitsch here. Well, one cannot be more right. It is a film that is not taken itself too seriously while involving a great laugh and a good fun. So it is far from being high-brow and not that far to low-brow. However, it is not as trashy as his Pink Flamingos where scenes of hardcore sex and feces eating are presented.
Cry-Baby (Johnny Depp) is a juvenile delinquent and he always has a tear on his cheek because he caries a heavy secret. In his High School teens are split between the Squares and the Drapes. From the first scene we know that he will fall for the beautiful square blond. But their love won’t be easy. The film is punctuated with songs that reminds of the 1950’s, the era of the birth of Rock n’ Roll and how teenagers are always perceived as the fall of the civilization by the elders of the society. Anyhow, teens become adults some day and they will fear the next generation’s crazy new thing that seems so degenerated but that refreshes the world as it is for music and everything.
This is a light hearted film and it should be watched with a smile and enjoyed as a simple pleasure. As I read about the movie I learned that it has a cult following and that just like a monument like The Rocky Horror Picture Show it has a legion of fans. I always have a fascination with movies that creates this kind of following and how sometimes they are far from being great or even good films (just watch Tommy Wiseau’s The Room) but they manage to have a repeated viewing capacity.
Learning more about John Waters was also very interesting and I hope to watch more of his films and seize his overall career.