Cry Baby DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
I initially saw Cry-Baby when it was released back in 1989. While I thought it was good, I liked Waters' film before this, Hairspray, a lot more. I don't know why, I just remember that film sitting better with me as an overall filmgoing experience. Now, upon rewatching it, the tale of Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker (Johnny Depp), who has an amazing ability to drive women wild (yes, it has something to do with his nickname), but runs into trouble when he and Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) fall in love, is actually a supped up, greaser-tough version of Romeo and Juliet. Williams' is a "square" and "Cry-Baby" is a "drape" and this sets off a whole chain of wild events. Told with classic John Water's humor, Cry-Baby is a musical, melodramatic, retro film in every shape and form.

After screening this movie, I have decided that what I liked better about Hairspray was that it was (of all things!) more normal then Cry-Baby. Sadly, my knowledge of cinema didn't allow me to appreciate Cry-Baby as much as I do now. This film is a solid bit of camp, but the actors and actresses aren't faking it. They aren't winking at the camera and they aren't playing roles. They are playing everything as straight as possible, with the end result being a film that is earnestly trying to achieve something good.
THE EXTRAS
"It Came From Baltimore" Making Of

This is a solid behind the scenes piece headed up by John Waters and the cast. Waters talks in such a way that he makes everything seem easy. It is as if he has an idea, commits it to paper and thus his movies get made. I know that obviously things are never this easy, but he certainly makes it seem that way. When you glance at his oeuvre it sure seems like he must have some kind of luck to be able to make the films that he does. This featurette talks to many of the cast members and yes, Mr. Depp does make an appearance. Actually, he makes more then appearance but I think the interview was done before he was Johnny Depp.

Feature Commentary with Director John Waters

John Waters really seems to be having a good time with this. He seems to have just sat back, put the movie on and without any notes or points he wants to hit, just starts talking about the film. He explains how people were cast (Traci Lords being the most interesting story in my opinion), and essentially tells the fans everything they could want to know about

Cry-Baby. I also appreciate that he talked over the whole film. So many times you read on DVD's that there is a commentary track. So you buy the movie and then realize that it's a "scene specific" commentary.

Deleted Scenes

Truthfully, the thought of there being deleted scenes in a John Waters movie is surprising. I feel this way primarily because he seems like a filmmaker who puts whatever he wants in his movies. These scenes were primarily continuations of scenes within the movie that were probably cut for time reasons. Although there weren't that many here, I think that this is one "extra feature" that could have been left off the disk. Overall, I just didn't feel that they added anything to the actor's performances, or illuminated much about the movie. The diehard fans will probably be very happy though.
THE VIDEO
Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. While this movie is a period piece it really does have a solid and original 1950s look. Everything seems brighter and bigger in John Waters world. I love the contrast between how perfect everything looks on the outside, and yet underneath all that you have this whole underbelly that is ignored. Yet, the underbelly is precisely where John Waters likes to reside and as a result, we come to see that the there really isn't too much of a difference between the "clean" and the "unclean". Personally, I love the look of the '50s. I love the style with which it is put across in this movie. Everything adds to it's campy tone yet it is believable. Cry-Baby is over the top but not because Waters ever lets the story get away from him. It is quite apparent that this movie is his vision from the first to the last frame.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 2.0 - English - Subtitled in French and Spanish. Cry-Baby is a musical and as such this movie has very solid sound. I am also a huge fan of 1950s music. Everything is played up to the hilt in this film. Whether Johnny Depp is expressing himself, or one of the "squares" has something to say, nothing is done lightly. I think this might give off the impression that this isn't a film to be taken seriously. I know that initially this was my reaction. Yet, when I saw this movie for the second time, I saw that it was the style that had confused me and not the tone which is always consistent.
THE PACKAGE
From what I recall. the picture of Johnny Depp all greased out with one tear coming down his cheek, and Amy Locane with her legs up in the air was the original artwork for Cry-Baby when it was released back in 1990. I might be wrong but it certainly looks the same. The back features more pictures from the movie (some seem like photographs that were taken during quiet moments on the set), an extras listing, cast list and minimal technical specs. All in all, the packaging keeps itself within the 1950s vibe of the film. While I could honestly have seen this movie being in a 2 disk set with some more bells and whistles, I think that this packaging more then does the job. Good work, Universal!
THE FINAL WORD
While I don't know that Cry-Baby is a film that will appeal to everyone, I do know that I am happy to have had a chance to revisit this movie. While it isn't the best film I have ever seen, it really does have a sense of place and is uniquely stylized. John Waters is honestly an independent filmmaker. He could be given a budget of $100 million dollars and any film he made would be totally independent regardless of a studio's affiliation. I say this because his mentality and mindset is such that he doesn't gravitate toward the norm. His films look at original people. I am sure that some would say that they are weird, or even that Waters' films are weird but I think that is missing the point. I have always gotten the impression that Waters' films are celebrations. That he is deeply in love with his characters and the material that he creates. This love is what comes out the the strongest in every frame of his films.

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