Starring: Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Polly Bergen
Director: John Waters
Running Time: 85 mins
Cry-Baby is an American film about a square high school girl who wishes to break out of her group in a small suburban town and fall in love with the charismatic leader of the locale’s delinquents.
I love a good, nostalgic parody/homage to classic cinema and an age of yesterday, but it strangely took me a little while to get into Cry-Baby. Still, once it really gets into its stride with a lovingly ridiculous recreation of 1950s America, it’s a hugely enjoyable watch that zips with energy and glee right to the finish.
One of the reasons that I think I wasn’t able to get into the film in the first half quite as much is because it is so ridiculous. Without a doubt, it’s a loving tribute to 1950s America and the Rebel Without A Cause brand of cinema, but it takes all of the tropes of the era and turns them up to no end.
And as the film starts out, it seems almost too much to be genuine, only revealing its loving intentions as the story unfolds later on.
Also, the early part of Cry-Baby is a little less focused on pure ’50s homage and a little more on narrative and characters. That pays dividends come the end of the film, but there is undeniably a clash between the almost manic parody and homage and a slightly more earnest romance story about a ‘square’ girl falling in love with a cool guy.
So, the best part of Cry-Baby comes in the latter half, as we do away with rather more generic teen romance and go all-out on the 1950s homage. From musical numbers that echo the sound of the era to countless references to classic ’50s movies, anyone with even the most superficial love and nostalgia for the period will fall in love with this movie.
It’s full of energy, it’s plainly ridiculous, and its blend of fun-loving sensibilities and genuinely loving mockery make it an irresistibly enjoyable watch later on. Johnny Depp and Amy Locane’s ultra-exaggerated performances add to that, as does the gorgeous production and costume design and the selection of occasionally awkward but undeniably catchy musical numbers.
Overall, then, I really liked Cry-Baby. It’s not perfect from beginning to end, and certainly doesn’t deliver its full potential until over halfway through, but with such immense love and energy packed into its parody and homage to 1950s America, it’s an enormously entertaining watch that will really make you smile and laugh, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.