Cry-Baby | Chicago Reader

Cry-Baby

John Waters's disappointing 1990 follow-up to Hairspray is another musical about Baltimore teenagers, this time about class warfare in 1954 rather than racial integration in 1962—the juvenile delinquents versus the upscale squares. But Waters's inspiration and precision seem to have deserted him, and the death of Divine has left a gaping hole in his work, what might be called the absence of a moral center (something that also troubled his other feature without Divine, Desperate Living). Despite a likable and varied cast—Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Susan Tyrrell, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, and Polly Bergen, with cameos by many others—Waters's feeling for the mid-50s doesn't really match his sense of the early 60s (the problems start with the old-fashioned Universal logo at the beginning, which belongs to the 40s and earlier rather than to the 50s), and his plot moves seem increasingly formulaic. Otherwise, this is agreeable enough as a minor effort.

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