DVD Review HTF Review: Cry-Baby - Director's Cut

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

    Jul 6, 2003
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    Cry-Baby – Director’s Cut

    Studio: Universal
    Year: 1990
    Rated: Not Rated
    Running Time: 92 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Captions: English
    Subtitles: French and Spanish
    Audio: English – Dolby Digital Stereo (2.0)

    Release Date:
    July 19th, 2005

    My introduction to John Waters’ unique brand of filmmaking came in the form of one of his more recognizable and memorable releases, Hairspray (1988), which I have seen numerous times on cable over the years. His next film, Cry-Baby, an homage to the rebellious rock-and-roll culture that developed during the 1950s, was structured a bit like Grease, in that it contained similar themes and several musical numbers.

    It goes without saying that Cry-Baby bears Waters’ stamp, so it neither plays out in exactly the same way Grease does nor enjoys the same mainstream notoriety. That being said, it is worth a look, particularly if you enjoy musicals, as it contains some memorable songs, terrific performances by Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, and most of the supporting cast, and a great soundtrack. Surprisingly (I hadn’t seen this in years), my initial reaction was that the film has also aged very well, and I continued to feel the same way even after watching it three times for this review!

    In terms of the story, the portion of Cry-Baby’s life we see unfolding in this film takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, circa the early 1950s, just as rock-‘n-roll was becoming a more powerful and prominent genre of music. It is in this setting that the film’s titular character, Wade “Cry-Baby” walker (Depp), the tough yet sensitive son of a convicted killer, meets a girl named Allison Vernon-Williams (Locane), who falls in love with him. Like Olivia Newton John’s character in Grease to John Travolta’s, Allison is a much more conservative person, but is enthralled by Cry-Baby’s darker persona. Indeed, the two could not have come from more different backgrounds, as Allison’s family runs a charm school and is heavily involved in barbershop music!

    In this film, John Waters establishes distinct cliques that are comprised by the youth, neatly titled “Drapes” and “Squares”, which he also delights in poking fun at. The term “Drapes” refers to Cry-Baby conglomeration of delinquents, which includes his sister Pepper (talk show queen Ricki Lake) and her boyfriend (Daniel Burrows), the sexy Wanda (Traci Lords), and a very homely girl affectionately dubbed “Hatchet-Face” (Kim McGuire). A rough group, these young people haunt a remote woodland area overseen by Cry-Baby’s grandparents (Iggy Pop and Susan Tyrrell), where they can party hard, without being disturbed.

    On the other side of the fence are the “Squares”, or the conservative group of kids that Allison has been associated with. To this group, the “Drapes” are vile cretin, bound for either jail or an early grave, and certain members are none to please with Allison’s recent defection…which should give you a big clue where this is heading. Yes, friends, as they grow closer, the two teens find their budding inter-class relationship threatened, by Allison’s stuffy ex-boyfriend Baldwin (Stephen Mailer), who claims Allison for his own and wants to put an end to her relationship with Cry-Baby and his gang of drapes. And so the gauntlet has been cast down…but who will win out in the end?

    If you have not yet seen Cry-Baby I do not want to spoil the experience for you, so I will end my description of the plot right there. It is an age-old story, the forbidden love between two young people from different races, classes, etc., but Mr. Waters direction is sharp, so it is told pretty well here. And as I mentioned earlier, Johnny Depp and company were delightful, and really seem to have given their all to this slightly over-the-top film and its myriad of musical numbers! Indeed, they infuse the film with a vibrancy and spirit that makes it a pleasurable viewing experience overall.

    Interestingly, although I have grown to really enjoy musicals, about the only issue I had with Cry-Baby was that there may have been too many musical numbers in the film. Wait, let me rephrase that – it appears to me as though they are unevenly placed in the film, with the bulk of them situated during the latter half of Cry-Baby. It is not the biggest deal, but to me, this slowed the film down somewhat, and took my focus off of the characters and their story a tiny bit.

    Save for this one minor quibble, I really enjoyed revisiting Cry-Baby. Though it has some obvious similarities to Grease, there are more than enough of John Waters’ personal touches to set Cry-Baby apart from that more famous musical, as well as some not-so-subtle jabs at those who are intolerant of others. If you enjoy musicals, but have yet to see this film, I suggest giving it a go – it is a different, but interesting entry into the genre.

    For Cry Baby, the good people at Universal Home Video have crafted an anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) image transfer that looks outstanding! For me, the greatest pleasure was the stellar reproduction of colors, including bold primaries. They are consistently vibrant and composed, without any distracting bleeding or chroma noise.

    The image’s black level remains not only deep, but also pleasantly free of any low-level noise, so the film exhibits excellent shadow delineation and depth throughout. Finally fine detail is surprisingly good in both close-ups and the background of most shots, and the image only contains a modest amount of film grain.

    About the only negative aspect of the transfer is the appearance of much-maligned edge enhancement, but happily, its application is not heavy enough that it should cause the average viewer much trouble. Bottom line, this image transfer is very solid in almost every respect, and I have to imagine that most fans will be extremely pleased with how Cry Baby looks on DVD! [​IMG]

    Holding its own against the excellent visuals, the soundtrack for Cry-Baby is offered in a crisp Dolby Digital Stereo (2.0) mix, which exhibits excellent tonal quality and fidelity. In particular, the actors’ speech comes through clearly, without any hissing, sibilance, or other audible distractions.

    The mix is also evenly balanced, and frequency response is certainly respectable, as the track has a satisfactory low bass response. The music present in the film also sounds quite good, and although it might have had a bit more room to breathe in a 5.1 channel mix, the stereo track does offer a fairly pleasing sense of separation.

    All in all, it is a good mix, and a nice compliment to Cry-Baby’s commendable image transfer!


    Audio Commentary
    The audio commentary for Cry-Baby is contributed by the man himself, director John Waters! As is the case on the other commentary tracks I have heard from Mr. Waters, he is lively, informative, and genuinely funny! I expected to be disappointed at not hearing from Johnny Depp, but after listening to this commentary, I cannot imagine that there were too many stones left unturned by John Waters. Moreover, it is an extremely engaging listen!

    Indeed, you can expect to hear a wealth of information on all sorts of things related to this film, from the casting decisions to how it was developed from an idea into a feature film. There were lots of highlights for me, and there really is a lot of information here that would be of interest to fans, or those interested in how John Waters works, so be sure to give this commentary at least one listen!

    It Came From Baltimore
    This documentary, which runs for roughly 48 minutes, offers a comprehensive look at
    the making of Cry-Baby, via excerpts of interviews with Johnny Depp, John Waters, and former porn-star Traci Lords, among others. Through these interviews, the participants offer insight into a variety of topics related to the film, including the development of the script, assembling the cast, and how the film compares to the films from the 1950s that inspired it.

    As is the commentary, this “making of” documentary was fascinating, and should offer a more thorough understanding of the film to fans. Since I was hoping to hear from Johnny Depp on the commentary track, I thought that the perspectives of the actors that appear in this documentary make it an great supplement to John Waters’ audio commentary.

    Deleted Scenes
    The deleted scenes section of the disc contains five sequences that were trimmed from the film, including scenes with Hatchet-Face and her boyfriend going for a ride in a helicopter and a couple of scenes featuring Traci Lords.

    Promotional Materials[/i]
    There are trailers for The Wedding Date and the great comedy The Big Lebowski included on the disc, but those hoping for Crybaby’s trailer will be left disappointed.


    (on a five-point scale)
    Movie: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    If you like Cry-Baby, I whole-heartedly recommend picking this DVD up, as it shines from a technical standpoint, and is loaded with extras that actually offer a great deal of insight into the film. To be sure, this film may not be for everyone, but as John Waters’ films go, this is probably one of the more “normal”, and the music and lead performances are very good!

    It has been a little while since I have had the chance to say this, but this release warrants a “Highly recommended”! Don’t be a “square” [​IMG] …check it out!!!

    Stay tuned…
  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

    Sep 20, 2002
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    I have this on oreder, but haven't gotten it yet. It's billed as a Direcotrs Cut, does anyoone know what has been added to the film?
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Nov 15, 2004
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    The basement of the FBI building
    Just going off my memory, there's a dance number (or two) but it's mostly scene extensions and it gets rid of the 'beep' over the word "fuck"
    Waters identifies most or all of the new stuff on the commentary too.

    In my opinion, they're good additions. Waters didn't just say 'Let's put them all in!'. He looked at the scenes that would work and only put those scenes into the new cut.
  4. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Producer

    Jul 10, 1999
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    Just watched, It Came From Baltimore yesterday and think it's as interesting and informative an extra as I've ever seen. My one regret was not getting any Joey Heatherton.
    [FONT= &rdquo]


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