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Film: Cry-Baby

Cry-Baby is a 1990 film directed by John Waters. It tells the classic story of Star-Crossed Lovers "Square" Allison Vernon-Williams falls for Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker, leader of the local "drapes" in their small Maryland town and the upheaval their romance causes between the hillbilly drapes and the uptight squares. Did we mention it's a musical?

Cry-Baby provides examples of:

  • Action Dress Rip: The motorcycle stunt at the end.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The stage musical transforms Cry-Baby's would-be girlfriend Lenora into a bona-fide Stalker with a Crush. It also claims that Cry-Baby's parents were sent to the electric chair for being suspected Communist spies and that Allison's grandmother was responsible for it happening. It also includes scenes of Wanda, Pepper and Hatchet-Face in a girl's reform school, while Cry-Baby and Dupree are in jail.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: What the drapettes do for Allison. It mainly involves Letting Her Hair Down, and giving her a pair of skin-tight pedal-pushers and a bustier top.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of 1950s juvenile delinquent movies, and the jukebox musicals of the same time period.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Quoth Allison, "I am so tired of being good."
  • Badass Grandma: Ramona Rickets and, eventually, Mrs. Vernon-Williams.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Averted, with Lenora, and Allison, who Cry-Baby thought was cute before her sexy makeover.
  • Camp: Well, it is John Waters, after all.
  • Car Fu: The "chicken" showdown at the climax.
  • Censored for Comedy: Invoked in the original theatrical release, as Waters was only allowed one F-word so as to not compromise the PG-13 rating. That one unbleeped instance turns into a Crowning Moment of Funny:
    Wanda: Would you just get me the f*** out of here?!
    Mrs. Woodward:What's f*** mean, Hector?
    Mr. Woodward: Oh, Meg, it's just a teen nonsense word Wanda uses to make herself feel all grown up.
    Mrs. Woodward: Your Honor, can we take Wanda the fuck home?
    • Said scene was restored in the director's cut.
  • Chick Magnet: Cry-Baby, of course.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Both Allison and Cry-Baby; her parents were killed in two different plane crashes, while his father was the Alphabet Bomber, and was executed in the electric chair, as well as his wife, when she tried to intervene on his behalf.
    • "Us orphans got special needs!"
  • Crowd Song: The Whiffles' cross-town performance of the Bunny Hop, "Please Mr. Jailer" and "High School Hellcats".
  • Cut Song: "Chicken," sung by the Squares. Added as a bonus feature on the director's cut.
  • Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good: The drapes and squares, respectively.
  • Delinquents
  • Drum Bathing: We first see Iggy Pop bathing in a little metal tub in the yard - he cheerfully exclaims "Ya caught me in my birthday suit!"
  • Embarrassing First Name: Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker never goes by his first name.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Well, more like White Cannot Comprehend Hip.
  • Face of a Thug: Mona, aka "Hatchet-Face".
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • "Electricity makes me INSANE!"
    • "Are you aware that Negroes were present at tonight's disturbance?"
  • The Fifties
  • Freudian Excuse: Cry-Baby has to do one rotten thing every day to avenge his parents, both of whom died in the electric chair.
  • Generation Xerox: Cry-Baby's and Pepper's parents and grandparents could qualify for this. Milton's Straw Fundamentalist parents and Wanda's Stepford Smiler parents largely avert this.
  • Get A Load Of That Square: Almost quoted word for word.
  • Girl Posse: The Cry-Baby girls, to a degree.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The judge and Mrs. Vernon-Williams let Cry-Baby and several of the other drapes out of jail at the end. Lenora also sides with the squares for a shot at redemption.
  • "I Am" Song: "King Cry-Baby", "High-School Hellcats".
  • Informed Attribute: The Drapes' bad, evil ways. We hear that Hatchet-Face is so tough she coulda eaten nails for breakfast, that Pepper's pregnant but she fights as good as any man, that Milton is "Young, stupid and mean," and the song "High-School Hellcats" says that all of Cry-Baby's gang is "Friends of the devil, twice as mean," but we never see any evidence of this, except the way they dress.
  • Jerkass: Allison's boyfriend, Baldwin.
  • Kick the Dog: Many "square" characters do this to Cry-Baby and the other drapes, but only Baldwin seems to get real joy out of it.
  • Large Ham: Most of the cast, but especially Johnny Depp, particularly during his Freudian Excuse monologue.
  • Mad Bomber: Wade "Cry Baby" Walker's father was the "Alphabet Bomber", who bombed buildings in alphabetical order. He got the electric chair.
  • Make-Out Point: There's one at Turkey Point, where Allison learns to French-kiss. In the stage play, the set-up is used at the backdrop for the tender ballad "Girl, Can I Kiss You (With Tongue)."
  • The New Rock & Roll: The film's set in 1953, so it's not satanic yet, just trashy "race music".
  • Non-Singing Voice: James Intveld performed all the vocals for Johnny Depp, and Rachel Sweet did the same for Amy Locane.
  • Nothing But Hits: Largely averted, except with the country club's talent show performances of "Teenage Prayer" and "Sh-Boom".
  • Politically Correct History: Sort of: most of the squares are openly prejudiced against black people, but the drapes appear to have no problem with them.
  • Sad Times Montage: "Teardrops are Falling" includes Allison drinking a jar full of her own tears.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation
  • Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl: Allison eventually develops into one of these. She remains more or less her sweet self, but now she's a delinquent's girlfriend, and more inclined to less conservative outfits.
  • Separated by the Wall: Allison and Cry-Baby gyrate on opposite sides of the glass barrier in "Please, Mr. Jailer".
  • Shout-Out
    • Breaking Cry-Baby out of jail and Pepper's kids out of the orphanage pays tribute to The Benny Hill Show.
    • Johnny Depp's performance also evokes a young Elvis Presley.
  • Singing Simlish: The stage musical's song "Baby Baby Baby Baby (Baby Baby)" parodies the scat-like lyrics in rockabilly music.
    • "But I don't know the words!"
  • Single Tear: The secret to Cry-Baby's sex appeal. Aside from being played by Johnny Depp, of course.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Played straight with Cry-Baby, but averted with Hatchet-Face's parents, one of whom ends up in an iron lung.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Hairspray.
  • Spinning Newspaper
  • Spoiled Sweet: Allison.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Lenora. Made even more blatant in The Musical.
  • That Nostalgia Show
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Almost all the songs start like this, particularly in the second half.
  • Tropes Are Not Bad
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Pepper keeps a switchblade in her bra.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: On one of the deleted scenes.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Pepper's son, Snare-Drum, and her daughter, Susie-Q.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Baldwin and the Whiffles' reactions to "colored" music and drapes, in general.
  • Window Love: "Please, Mr. Jailer", a song and dance number which the director says was inspired by peep shows and gloryholes.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Lenora pretends to be pregnant with Cry-Baby's child to split him and Allison up, and Baldwin does the same when harassing the drapes at Turkey Point: "They beat me and kicked me; all because I love you."
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The prison guards to the drapes.
  • You Put the X in XY:
    Ramona Rickettes: You put the T in tough!

Back to the FutureThe FiftiesGrease
Captain America (1990)Films of the 1990sDances with Wolves
Class12-KAdministrivia/Hyphenated TitlesDaylight-Asa Ni Hikari No Kanmuri Wo

alternative title(s): Cry Baby
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