Awfully Good: Cry-Baby

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

While Johnny Depp prepares to give us another quirky character in MORTDECAI, remember the good ol’ days of…

Cry-Baby (1990)

Director: John Waters
Stars: Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Traci Lords

The bad boy leader of a ne’er-do-well gang of misfits falls for a prim and proper upper class girl, creating tension and trouble in 1950s Baltimore. Much singing ensues.

The same year he fell in love with Tim Burton and made EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, Johnny Depp also worked with another iconic director on a lesser known cult-favorite. John Waters’ CRY-BABY is a campy musical parody of GREASE and other teenage angst and rebellion films, one that’s more REBEL WITHOUT A CLUE than REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.

The moment Johnny Depp realizes he will spend the rest of his life playing Jack Sparrow.

Fans of Waters’ filmography should not be surprised to find his trademark trashiness here, whether it comes to content or characters. There’s a loveable white trash family, a high school pregnancy played for laughs, and a girl named Hatchet-Face whose mug looks like a Picasso painting gone horribly awry. It’s a silly, broad satire on narrow-minded conservative thinking and everything is woefully overdramatic and played for maximum ridiculousness, which helps with the laughs. Especially coupled with the constant doo wop and rockabilly songs.

What’s itching Gilbert Grape.

Young Johnny Depp is legitimately great as the title character. He embraces the tone of the movie wholeheartedly, completely selling the overdone swagger and mocking his 80s heartthrob image through corny song and dance. He also pulls off so many terrible lines like “I’m burning inside to touch you, baby!” “Electricity killed my parents!” and that classic pickup line “Orphans have special needs.” Waters also puts together a solid supporting cast to fill out his version of Baltimore, including former porn star Traci Lords, future talk show host Ricki Lake and rock legend Iggy Pop. There’s even an out-of-nowhere cameo from Willem Dafoe as “Hateful Guard,” a warden who looks down on his prisoners but isn’t above giving them a slap on the ass when needed.

Willem Dafoe liked to share erotic tales from the set of ANTICHRIST and NYMPHOMANIAC.

In true Montague-Capulet fashion, the movie centers on two disparate groups that divide the town. There are the Squares—a group of law-abiding upper class citizens who congregate at the local country club, where the motto is “Beauty, brains, breeding and bounty”—and the Drapes—a gang of classless delinquents who listen to rock music and break all the rules. (Or as the head Square refers to them: “Boys with long hair and tattoos who spit on the sidewalk. Girls who wear tight slacks—hysterectomy pants.”) The leader of the Drapes is Cry-Baby, whose signature move is forcing out a single, sensitive tear that drives all the girls crazy. And when said tear catches the eye of Allison, the granddaughter of a prominent Square, it can only mean one thing—trouble! And awkward singing! Okay, two things.

“Here’s a little something Marlon Brando taught me during DON JUAN DEMARCO.

Cry-Baby shows up at the Square Talent Show and steals his dream girl away from her uptight brethren and takes her back to the Drapes’ hideout, the romantic paradise known as Turkey Point. Because Allison’s got it raw, she gets a bad girl makeover and the pair immediately falls in love—Cry-Baby teaches her how to French kiss and she talks about her dead parents the entire time they make out. (Cry-Baby’s ridiculous explanation about his own missing guardians and how he earned his nickname is one of the highlights of the movie.) Of course this stirs up trouble for the starcrossed couple, including Cry-Baby getting locked up for some jailhouse rock, allegations of infidelity and more teen pregnancy, and a car-top game of vehicular chicken set to the song “High School Hellcats.”

Johnny Depp had the same reaction to TRANSCENDENCE as all other humans.

If you’re sick of Johnny Depp’s modern schtick, CRY-BABY works as a nice palate cleanser.

Some of Johhny Depp’s cheesiest lines and more.

Johnny Depp’s singing, Traci Lords’ boob punch, Willem Dafoe’s cameo and a guide to French kissing.

Where’s the MovieHotties page for Hatchet-Face?

Don’t be a square! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Someone cries
  • Someone gets called a square
  • Two people French kiss
  • Lenora gets rejected
  • Someone/something is put off by Hatchet-Face’s face
  • The clown can only afford make up for a small part of his face

Double shot if:

  • A mouse is a total dick

Thanks to Jillian for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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