DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


John Waters
Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Susan Tyrrell, Polly Bergen, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Kim McGuire
Writing Credits:
John Waters

He's a doll. He's a dreamboat. He's a delinquent.

Johnny Depp heads up a supercool cast as the irresistible bad boy whose amazing ability to shed one single tear drives all the girls wild - especially Allison Vernon Williams (Amy Locane), a rich, beautiful “square” who finds herself uncontrollably drawn to the dreamy juvenile delinquent and his forbidden world of rockabilly music, fast cars and faster women.

Box Office:
$11 million.
Domestic Gross
$8.266 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 7/12/2005

• Audio Commentary with Director John Waters
• “It Came From Baltimore” Documentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Cry-Baby: Director's Cut (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 5, 2005)

After a long career as the mondo-trashiest director around, a funny thing happened to John Waters: he became family-friendly. This transformation officially began with 1988’s campy nostalgia trip Hairspray, and that film’s hugely successful Broadway adaptation really amped up the image of the kinder, gentler Waters.

In recent years he’s tried to re-establish himself as the king of trash with flicks like A Dirty Shame, but Waters definitely showed his soft side for quite a long period. We get that version of the director with 1990’s Cry-Baby.

Set in the mid-Fifties, we meet the students of a Baltimore high school. These include “Squares” like Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) and her boyfriend Baldwin (Stephen Mailer) as well as some hoodlums called “Drapes”. Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker (Johnny Depp) heads that crew, and the group also features slutty Wanda (Traci Lords), Wade’s pregnant sister Pepper (Ricki Lake), “young, stupid and mean” Milton (Darren E. Burrows) and cartoony hag “Hatchet-Face” (Kim McGuire).

Allison decides she’s tired of being good and tries to warm up to Cry-Baby despite the objections of Baldwin and her guardian grandmother (Polly Bergen). Cry-Baby wants to sing and Allison wants to hear his music, but Mrs. Vernon-Williams refuses to allow him in a talent show. She also warns Allison of the “shameful truth” about Cry-Baby’s family.

Despite – or perhaps due to – all of these objections, Allison falls for Cry-Baby, and he feels the same way about her. After his scuzzy Grandmother Ramona Rickets (Susan Tyrrell) gives him a hot new motorcycle, he rides to the talent show to impress Allison. This works, and after a brief altercation, she rides off to hear him sing at Turkey Point, aka “the Redneck Riviera”.

Allison gets a “bad girl makeover”, joins the Cry-Baby Combo onstage, and learns about the pleasures of French kisses and second base. Along the way, we find out about the bizarre demise of her parents and Cry-Baby’s secret shame as well as how that issue influences his bad boy ways. The pair romance but not without pressures from the Squares; they torch Cry-Baby’s bike and start a brawl. The rest of the movie follows the issues related to their relationship, factors that complicate when Cry-Baby gets arrested for his role in the brawl.

If you’re not acquainted with the teen idol and juvenile delinquent flicks of the Fifties, will you get anything from this campy spoof? Probably not, though I’m not sure how much you’ll take from it even if you’re an aficionado of Fifties pop trash. Cry-Baby acts as a campy spoof of the genres in question and doesn’t go much beyond that.

Essentially, it become Romeo and Juliet was a Fifties twist. At times it feels padded, as we find too many long and pointless production numbers, especially early in the film with elements like the talent show. Apparently Waters viewed this as his attempt to make a musical, but it doesn’t work in that vein.

At times the flick offers amusement, but it lacks much coherence or real spark. A lot of the time it takes on easy subjects and doesn’t really go anywhere. I will admit that unlike A Dirty Shame - which started strong and got worse as it progressed - Cry-Baby does improve as it goes. We get over the top weirdness in the third act with the jail break and the showroom of the orphanage. None of this makes much sense, but at least the flick achieves a gleeful goofiness

But is it worth the wait? Nope. Between all the boring musical numbers and the generally lackluster quality of the production, Cry-Baby rarely turns into anything interesting. The boredom of the flick’s early parts doesn’t pay off well enough by the end to make this worth the time.

Note that this DVD of Cry-Baby presents the unrated director’s cut. It runs about six minutes longer than the “PG-13” theatrical version. The extra footage includes more music, some scene extensions, and more profanity. I never saw the theatrical cut, so I don’t know if any of this material actually improves the product.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Cry-Baby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite some rock y moments, the transfer usually looked strong.

Sharpness presented very few concerns. A smidgen of edge enhancement created slight softness, but these instances remained very minor. Instead, the movie was consistently concise and distinctive. I noticed no jagged edges, but elements like striped shirts created light shimmering. After a grainy opening, source flaws stayed modest. The occasional speck or bit of grit cropped up, but not a lot of concerns appeared.

Colors looked terrific. Cry-Baby went with a bright palette, and the movie demonstrated those tones nicely. The hues always came across as lively and dynamic. Blacks were also dense and firm, while low-light sequences seemed appropriately clear and visible. I flip-flopped between a “B” and a “B+” for the image but went with the higher grade because so much of the flick looked so good.

I didn’t expect much from the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Cry-Baby, but it worked pretty well. The soundscape accentuated the movie’s heavy use of music. The songs showed solid stereo imaging across the front and received a little reinforcement from the rear. Effects played a much smaller role, though they presented decent localization and movement. Other than the songs, don’t expect to hear much from the surrounds, as they stayed pretty passive. I didn’t mind, as the stereo presentation in the front was more than adequate for this film.

Music also fared well when I examined the quality of the audio. The songs and score consistently came across as lively and dynamic, with clean highs and deep lows. Effects were a less prominent element, but they seemed reasonably accurate and clear. Speech usually was crisp and concise, though some edginess occasionally affected the lines. As with the music, I debated a “B” versus a “B+” and went with the lower grade because I didn’t think the mix was ambitious enough for the higher mark. Still, I felt pleased with the soundtrack.

A smattering of supplements fills out the DVD. First comes an audio commentary with director John Waters. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. And a chatty chat this is, as Waters offers an honest and amiable assessment of his film.

Much of the time Waters tells us about the real-life inspirations for elements of Cry-Baby. We hear about many aspects of his youth that influenced the film as well as pieces taken from his later years. In typical Waters style, many of these have seedy origins. We also get many good notes about the cast and crew, locations and details of the shoot, and differences between the director’s cut and the theatrical version. Additionally, Waters gives us his impression of what it was like to make his first “Hollywood” flick. The track sags at times, but usually it offers a lively and entertaining listen.

Next we get a documentary entitled It Came From Baltimore. This 47-minute and 39-second piece offers the standard mix of movie clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from Waters, Rock On Film author David Ehrenstein, producer Rachel Talalay, property master Brook Yeaton, casting director Pat Moran, choreographer Lori Eastside, production designer Vince Peranio, costumer Van Smith, music supervisors Becky Mancuso and Tim Sexton, composer Dave Alvin, fan/DJ Del Villarreal, and actors Johnny Depp, Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, Kim McGuire, Stephen Mailer, Darren Burrows and Amy Locane,

The program covers the movie’s influences and precursors, character inspirations, getting Hollywood funding and connected issues, shooting the flick, its look and design, ratings problems, casting and rehearsals, the film’s music, choreography and related notes, cut sequences and alternate versions, the premiere and general anecdotes. That area comprises most of “Baltimore” and makes the show fun. Not a ton of material repeats from Waters’ commentary, and we get a high number of entertaining tales. These make the program move quickly and create a likable and informative piece.

Five Deleted Scenes last a total of seven minutes and two seconds. Two of these offer a subplot in which girlie photographer Toe-Joe Jackson recruits Wanda, while another provides a musical number called “Chicken”. We see a child contortionist act at the talent show and also a quick shot in which Milton vomits from a helicopter onto the judge. None are essential, but all are interesting to see – well, except for maybe that talent show bit, as it seems pointless.

The DVD opens with some ads. We find previews for The Big Lebowski, The Wedding Date, Northern Exposure and a general promo for Focus Pictures.

Is it possible to discuss John Waters and not use the word “campy” repeatedly? No, and Cry-Baby reminds us why. A campy spoof of Fifties teen movies, it occasionally connects but it usually fizzles. The DVD presents very good picture and audio along with a few strong extras. Fans will definitely embrace this solid release, but I can’t recommend the lackluster film to others who’ve not seen it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9629 Stars Number of Votes: 27
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.