September 14, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT

As John Waters’ follow-up to the utterly wonderful Hairspray, Cry-Baby should have been a masterpiece. The cliche-ridden genre of 1950s teen rebel movies lends itself to the writer-director’s perverse mixture of kitsch satire and discerning musical taste. And the stroke-of-genius casting — surrounding straightforward principals with such offbeat cultural icons as Traci Lords, Patty Hearst, and Iggy Pop — maintained the mild freak-show appeal endangered by the death of longtime Waters star Divine.

In a theater, Cry-Baby’‘s alienating failings — mediocre script, hammy, self-conscious acting, wooden direction — were somewhat mitigated by the great rock & roll music sung by James Intveld and Rachel Sweet, and by the colorful spectacle. If Johnny Depp’s smoldering stare couldn’t completely disguise his shortage of talent, the roar of a motorcycle and the mock-”Jailhouse Rock” choreography could. But watching ”Cry-Baby” on a 19-inch TV screen and hearing it through a 3-inch speaker further accentuates the lack of scale and occasion. We’re left with the impression of a large-budget lip-synch contest with a costumed cast of hundreds.

Still, Cry-Baby contains some classic examples of Waters’ wit, such as the priceless sight gag involving a 3-D movie. But even the rip-snorting production numbers set inside a prison (”Doin’ Time for Bein’ Young” and ”Please, Mister Jailer”) don’t compensate for the film’s many shortcomings. My advice? Get the soundtrack album and skip the movie. C+

type
Movie
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
85 minutes
director
Cast
Amy Locane,
Polly Bergen,
Troy Donahue,
Patricia Hearst,
Joey Heatherton,
Joe Dallesandro,
Ricki Lake,
Traci Lords,
Stephen Mailer,
Mink Stole,
Susan Tyrrell
Studio
Complete Coverage

You May Like

Comments

EDIT POST