On the right side of the tracks lives the virginal Allison (Amy Locane), all blond hair and crinoline skirts. Her grandmother, Mrs. Vernon-Williams, runs a charm school and is the local dictator of good taste and deportment. Her idea of fun is to host talent shows where "square" teens sing "Mr. Sandman" in barbershop harmony.
On the wrong side of the tracks lives Cry-Baby Walker (Depp), the delinquent orphan son of the executed Alphabet Killer. His gang includes his hugely pregnant sister Pepper (who already has two kids), her boyfriend Milton (Darren E. Burrows), their friend Hatchet-Face (Kim McGuire, perhaps the ugliest woman you've ever seen on film, and I say that with admiration), and sexpot Wanda (Traci Lords). They all hang out down at Turkey Point, a woodland camp run by Grandma and Grandpa (Susan Tyrrell and Iggy Pop). This crowd, known as "drapes" in the local vernacular, likes to drink, party, and drive fast cars. Cry-Baby fronts a band in which all his buddies are members. Traci Lords plays the triangle.
The battle lines are clear: when Cry-Baby meets Allison and uses his dangerous charm and leather-wrapped sex appeal to steal her away from her very square boyfriend, it's going to be Drapes vs. Squares in a fight to the finish, and with the formidable Mrs. Vernon-Williams leading the Square attack, it's going to be tough fight.
Allison loves hanging with the Drapes, but she has a lot to learn. Pepper calls her a "scrape," part square and part drape, and informs her that "The first thing a Cry-Baby girl learns is that our bosoms are our weapons." Pepper also has to fend off the horny Lenora, who's always had a crush on Cry-Baby. "My brother wouldn't touch your titties with a ten-foot pole! He likes his women bad, Lenora, not cheap." Ouch.
As Cry-Baby and Allison fall deeper in love, their romance is accompanied by a winning soundtrack, a mix of Elvis-like rockabilly -- Depp can really sing -- and retro '50s fun, including a madly joyous Bunny Hop down a suburban street. When Cry-Baby is jailed on trumped-up charges, he gets to sing the obligatory jailhouse production number ("Please Mr. Jailer") before he's finally released back into the arms of his true love.
Waters also takes time to introduce us to the parents of many of these troubled teens by staging a courthouse scene in which he presents a kitschy parade of B-list weirdos including Troy Donahue, Patty Hearst, Joe Dellasandro, Joey Heatherton, and David Nelson. This is one of the reasons to see any Waters flick: you just never know who's going to show up.
Everyone is clearly having a ball in Cry-Baby, and one can only imagine what the nightlife was like on the set, what with Johnny Depp and Iggy Pop hanging around with Traci Lords and a gaggle of swimsuit-clad teens jitterbugging over by the bourbon still. The good vibe is infectious. Cry-Baby is the most fun you can have in the Maryland woods (unless you enjoy hunting for the Blair Witch).
Stop the bawlin'.
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Friday 6th April 1990
Box Office Worldwide: $8.3M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 31 Rotten: 9
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: John Waters
Producer: Rachel Talalay
Screenwriter: John Waters
Starring: Johnny Depp as Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker, Amy Locane as Allison Vernon-Williams, Polly Bergen as Mrs. Vernon-Williams, Susan Tyrrell as Ramona Rickettes, Traci Lords as Wanda Woodward, Willem Dafoe as Hateful Guard at Maryland Training School for Boys, Ricki Lake as Pepper Walker, Iggy Pop as Belvedere Rickettes, Mink Stole as Hatchet's Mother
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