Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Roxie Reviews: 'Cry Baby'

I don't think I've ever done a film review for 'Roxie Reviews' so here is my first one! I only saw this film for the first time back in September when they finally had it in stock in HMV, but I have seen images and what not from Cry Baby (1990) floating around on the internet for a while. The first time I watched it, it was all a bit of an excitable whirl of greasers, music and laughs so I didn't really appreciate the ironic genius of John Waters' creation. It wasn't until further viewing that the subtle jokes clicked and I fully fell in love with the characters.

Now ladies, please remain calm. If you are of a nervous disposition, enjoy 'drape' guys, and have a wee crush on Johnny Depp I would advice you to sit down, maybe have a brown paper bag nearby and perhaps even a tissue to mop up the drool. In my opinion, Mr Depp has never been more fine! The tagline "He's a doll. He's a dreamboat. He's a delinquent." has never, ever been more appropriate.

 Can you see why I wasn't really focusing on the storyline the first time I watched the film? Well, once you've picked yourself up from the floor and recomposed yourself its time to get into the story. It might appear basic at first but underneath there are definitely some values that Waters' is trying to convey. First, we have the Romeo & Juliet scenario with square Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) falling for drape Wade 'Cry Baby' Walker (Johnny Depp); this is the main storyline for the film and really plays on the 1950s teen movie parody theme Water's runs through the entire picture. Other characters, like the Drape gang, Allison's grandmother and boyfriend, and Cry Baby's a-little-messed-up family all play into this but equally come together under the more subtle themes like acceptance, denial and equalism. I've read a few things on IMDb that this film is racist and anti-American but I think it couldn't be further from the truth; the drapes - who were always the teenage delinquents that society scorned - appear to be the heroes (if such characters exist in this film) who accept anyone into their gang, removing the stereotype of highschool drop outs, and the so-called good guys of America (the squares) are nothing less than judgemental bullies. Of course, there is irony as Waters plays up the stereotypes of hillbillies (Iggy Pop's first scene as Uncle Belvedere Rickettes is him "butt neckid" in a tin bath), teenage mothers (Ricki Lake as sixteen year old Pepper Walker already has two children and is pregnant with her third), and tough, knife-flicking social outsiders (I wouldn't want to take on Hachett-Face), but I think that just adds to the charm of the film.

I wanna be in their gang!

On a more superficial level I would like to add at this point that I want to be Wanda Woodward (Traci Lords) so much! I would love to have that bad gal attitude, her hair (she is the reason I cut my fringe back in...) and her wardrobe. I truly join John Waters when he says that he always wanted to be in a drape gang as a teenager.

Wanda Woodward

Waters says that Cry Baby not Hairspray is his musical, and I have to say the music is amazing. He mixes more popular classics of the era with new rockabilly numbers written just for the film, such as King Cry Baby and Highschool Hellcat.

So, I'd like to finish this post with two things. First, I would like to reinforce (if you hadn't already gotten the message) that if you like rockabilly music, enjoy those teen movies of the 1950s, or just have a completely understandable crush on Johnny Depp I would definitely give this movie a go - it's only an hour and a half long, so what's the risk, eh? And lastly, just some quotes, because in my opinion, Waters is a genius script writer and he needs more credit!

Romona Rickettes: Oh Wanda, you sure is pretty in them tight clothes, all painted up like trash!
Hachett-Face: There's nothing the matter with my face. I got character!

Wade 'Cry Baby' Walker: Fellas of the press, this chicken race tonight is for my daddy. And I'd like to sing something in his memory. Something hill-billy... something colored!

Mrs Vernon-Williams (Allison's Grandmother):  Juvenile delinquents are everywhere. Right here in this community. Boys with long hair and tattoos who spit on the sidewalk. Girls who wear tight slacks. Hysterectomy pants, I call them.

So yes...go watch Cry Baby!

No comments: