I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge of John Water’s films is limited. I’m not exactly sure why. Every interview I’ve seen of him on TV or in documentaries has always engaged me, the episode of ‘The Simpsons’ he guest-starred on is brilliant, and the fact that he still takes the subway around New York earns him extra points in my book. Plus his demented and kitschy sense of humor is right up my ally. So it’s a bit strange that the only work of his that I’ve seen to date is ‘Cry-Baby’ and his interviews in ‘This Film is Not Yet Rated’, plus the musical ‘Hairspray’ (which I’m sure, compared to the original movie, is a bastardization cleaned up for audiences comprised of the overweight soccer moms and their spawn that plague the streets of my fair city. And my grandma). Of these selected films, ‘Cry Baby’ is my favorite. In fact, I would go so far as to include it on my list of ‘Favorite Musicals (Stage and Screen)’ alongside ‘South Park: The Movie’, ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘West Side Story’, and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. I know it’s a short list. Sue me.
If you haven’t seen the movie already, (and I highly recommend you do) here are some reasons why it’s awesome:
1. It’s set in the 50’s. (My favorite!) Cheesy poodle skirts and leather jackets abound. Plus, I’m pretty sure several characters walk around wearing coonskin caps. When I was little, my sister and I were each given a coonskin cap by some relative for some holiday. I thought it was badass then and still do.
2. Not only does the cast include porn star Tracy Lords, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake AND Troy Donahue, it stars Johnny Depp as the title character. I would argue that, while Mr. Depp is certainly attractive as a pirate or a gypsy or getting eaten by a demonic bed or just standing around, ‘Cry Baby’ is a little visual time capsule to when he was the most striking. I mean, look at him:
Or maybe I just have a thing for emo boys in leather jackets. Who knows?
3. It’s funny. With lines like:
“Wanda's Father: Hi, Wanda honey.
Wanda's mother: You were on the radio.
Wanda: Would you just get me the fuck out of here?
Wanda's mother: What's "fuck" mean, Hector?
Wanda's Father: Oh, Maggie, it's just a teen nonsense word Wanda uses to make herself feel all grown-up.
Wanda's mother: Your Honor, could we take Wanda the fuck home?"
there’s no denying it.
4. It’s making fun of “Grease”, which yeah I know it’s a classic and blah blah blah but whenever that movie comes on I can’t help but get really offended by the ending. I mean, does Sandy REALLY have to become a slut for the relationship with Mr. Scientology to work? She’s kind of a horrible person already, and some skanky leather pants and a smoking habit aren’t going to change that. Danny would be much better off with Kenickie, who he’s clearly gay for the entire movie anyway. EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE, PEOPLE!! Don’t let some hot guy with a cleft in his chin change you just so you can get laid once or twice in the backseat of his car.
5. The white trash house where Cry Baby and his extended family live is all shades of awesome.
6. I own the soundtrack on vinyl. That alone should clue you in to how great (or awesomely bad, you choose) the music is.
If those reasons don’t convince you to add this to your Netflix cue, I’m not sure what will. And speaking of Netflix, I’m off to add more John Waters movies to my ever-lengthening list of movies I should watch but never have time for.