Ask any die-hard Johnny Depp fan about his hunkiest role, and you’ll get a range of answers. Near the top of any true devotee’s list, however, should be the 1990 John Waters musical Cry-Baby, which hit theaters 25 years ago this week. This rock musical features Depp at his absolute most swoon-worthy.
If you’ve come this far in life without seeing Cry-Baby, know that it’s a more rockin’ take on the typical Grease formula of a bad boy falling in love with a good girl. Depp channels his inner Elvis in his performance as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, the leader of a greaser gang. Amy Locane plays Allison, the Goody Two-shoes who yearns for more, and it’s quite easy to understand how Cry-Baby wins her heart.
Depp, who was just 26 when the film hit theaters, was at the time best known for A Nightmare on Elm Street and 21 Jump Street, and Edward Scissorhands wouldn’t hit theaters for nine months. Cry-Baby was the first film to hinge on the actor’s ability to make hearts throb.
Come on – just look at that face.
As Cry-Baby, Depp can simultaneously smirk, scowl and smolder.
But he’s also sensitive …
… and he only has eyes for one girl.
He can even make licking a prison partition look sexy.
Also, take a look at that jawline.
Although Depp has has long moonlighted as a musician – that was really him playing guitar in Chocolat – he’s lip-synching to vocals by rockabilly singer James Intveld. But you’d better believe Depp sells it: In what is maybe the film’s best song, Cry-Baby leads most of the film’s cast in “Please, Mr. Jailer.”
A jukebox musical, Cry-Baby features a host of lesser-known 1950s gems such as the heartbreak ballad "Teardrops Are Falling," which the movie weaves seamlessly into the plot.
And yes, Depp dances.
And if we are to discuss sexiness in Cry-Baby beyond Johnny Depp, it has to be said that Traci Lords is stunning as Wanda, one of the bad girls. This was only Lords’s second mainstream film following her previous career as a porn star. Wanda is but one in a long line of John Waters’s tough female characters.
And on the far other side of the spectrum, there’s the wonderfully monstrous creation known as Hatchet-Face (Kim McGuire). If you haven’t seen Cry-Baby, this GIF doesn’t come close to doing her justice.
But if you do celebrate this film’s silver anniversary with a screening, you’ll be thinking of Johnny.