User ReviewsReview this title
The cinema was full. The vibe was positive. The movie looks gorgeous, the pastel colours, the well framed shots and the costumes all looked amazing.
I was wondering after 10 mins into the start of a bus ride , was there going to be music?
O yeah. There was music. So so much music.
If you like MM this will blow you away. The story based around some he'll like school was secondary to the real story of acceptance both of yourself and others.
MM and her friends share an actual super power. Not spoiling it, but do not upset them they will totally ruin you.
Her songs were threaded throughout the movie, tying what really is chaos into a nightmare like vision into MM's dark side.
You will not like this movie if you treat it as a typical movie, this isn't one. It's 80mins of music video interspersed with scenes that may not make sense to us in reality, but do in this world.
Stay past the credits to see MM working hard in the studio showing how she's learning to dance.
The musical aspects (songwriting, choreography, and singing) of the film are amazing as usual with Melanie's work, but there are many potential plotpoints in the film itself that are just touched on once and never mentioned again. Some songs made seamless integration into the plot, for example "Wheels on the Bus", but others appeared out of nowhere and brought nothing to the plot, like "Strawberry Shortcake".
The movie's timeline is through the school years of Crybaby, but for most of the movie you couldnt tell at all what grade she was in at that time. Along with this, most of the characters are forgettable and dont have defining personality, but hey, at least it looks pretty!
I do think that Melanie put too much on her shoulders for this film. She wrote the script, directed, was the lead actress, did all of the songs, and edited the whole thing-- I applaud her for all the effort she went to make this film. For all of this being new to her, I think she did well, but I think that she should take it easy next time.
The film left me a little disappointed with more questions than answers, but at least I left the cinema with 14 new bops to add to my playlist.
This movie tackles many issues in our society and not in an overly "in your face" way that many others do. It's enjoyable while getting a point across, something most movies cant do. It also pokes fun at itself in a sense, not taking anything too seriously with Melanie and her friends seemingly having a lot of fun with this project,
The BIGGEST compliment is the directing, set desgin, and most of all, choreography. I did NOT expect this much choreography from her but wow did she really go in with the dancing. My personal favorites have to be the "The Principal" and the "Show and Tell" scenes.
Overall, if you like surrealism, dark humor, fantasy, and most of all music, i'd highly recomend this movie. Couldnt recommend it enough.
For all those expecting to see a feature-length film: this is more like a series of music videos, one after the other, with some dialogue. It's interesting to read that Melanie Martinez, who's responsible for pretty much this whole thing, originally planned it to be much longer and had to cut several scenes to fit the budget. To put it simply, it shows.
From a musical perspective that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The choreography is absolutely outstanding. Martinez is just as good as the professional dancers and their moves fit the themes and moods of the songs. There's diversity among the dancers, too, although given their messages I would have quite liked to see some more variation in body type. The problem is that the powerful emotions Cry Baby displays while she's singing and dancing just aren't carried through into the script.
Honestly, the writing isn't bad, and for someone like Martinez who is known for writing music to branch out into scriptwriting is a brave thing to do. She knows she's putting it out there for criticism and that's what she's going to get. It just lacks something - there are scenes where a song will end with a furious character literally murdering an antagonist only to show the same character blandly smiling and chatting with her friend. It's very obvious where Martinez's talent lies, which is to show emotion through music and dancing; adding dialogue to the mix just seems to complicate things unnecessarily. The images in the film - Martinez holding up an orange as dancers lie around her like a religious painting; a woman cutting open another woman's head; a character about to be dissected by a science teacher - speak louder than the script ever could.
I'll acknowledge the elephant in the room and say that the visuals in this film are absolutely stunning. I've never been a fan of Martinez's pastel aesthetic but this is another level, diluting the cuteness with toned-down shades of pink and blue and imposing camera angles of misty fields so that it is more sophisticatedly sinister than cloying. I found myself wanting to sleep in a bedroom as cosy (and enchanted) as Cry Baby and Angelita's. It is obvious and rewarding how much thought went into hair, costumes and makeup. The special effects are hit and miss - there's one awkward moment where a character stares into a mirror and it shatters, only for it to be left painfully obvious where the shot changed - but when they work, they really work. A school bus goes under the sea and flies through the sky, and this manages to be convincing. Ghosts are ghostly enough. Puppets are enjoyably creepy and two characters even manage to levitate during a playground fight. For all its eerie prettiness, though, there is a frustrating lack of substance.
'Frustrated' is probably an accurate word for how Martinez felt trying to condense a planned three hours' worth of plot into about half that. 'Frustrated' is an accurate word for how viewers will feel when this leaves some characters' stories rushed or untold. It's a sad spoiler alert that the bully character, Kelly, is never given redeeming qualities or even a backstory. We see Cry Baby's mother passed-out drunk and yet Cry Baby still has a home, complete with a magical alarm clock and a pet tarantula, with no other indication of what her home life is like. Cry Baby spends a much too fast-paced section of the film skipping from song to song as she recruits friends, finding one in a cafeteria and introducing her as 'Magnolia' without having even spoken to her (I can just about excuse this scene because of the incredible dancing). On the bus, she talks to Angelita as if they have met before, but this is never explained. She finds another friend, whose name could be Flora or Fleur due to the lacklustre sound editing in the scene, who suffers from an eating disorder. All it takes is a very in-your-face speech about loving yourself from Cry Baby and Flora/Fleur is cured. Martinez checks off a list of societal problems - body image, the patriarchy, transphobia - without devoting more than five minutes to most of them, leaving some subplots that the story would have made sense without. A transgender teacher never gets her acceptance, for example, and the sources of the children's 'powers' are never clarified. Doesn't Kelly have powers? Doesn't Flora? Cry Baby's character can become convoluted due to all the conflicting morals she's pushing - why is she singing about being unsure of her body when she's already made the revelation that bodies are temporary? I couldn't help but think that the messages, especially coupled with the spiritual aspects of the film, were not as subtle as they could have been, though Martinez has demonstrated her mastery of metaphors in the past. It seemed like 'Strawberry Shortcake' and 'The Principal' could have been simplified versions of 'Alphabet Boy', whilst 'Orange Juice' was another level of 'Mrs Potato Head'. This loss of ambiguity in favour of expositional dialogue, as well as errors in pacing in which the lengths of gaps between songs would vary too much or too little, was probably the most disappointing part of the film. Perhaps it's the surrealism causing the confusion - although there are fine lines between fantasy, surrealism and using the above two to justify style over substance, and Martinez has parked her pastel pink school bus over all three.
For all its flaws, it's obviously very worth a watch for fans of Martinez's music and for all who enjoy films with a strong aesthetic, as long as they're willing to settle for some moments of questionable acting (Martinez is actually one of the strongest actors in the cast). It's by no means a triumph of cinema, but for what it was meant to be it's definitely a treat to both listen to and look at. There is a distinct lack of the dark comedy that was promised, and at times it's more like watching a sleekly nightmarish ballet than a human-made film about humans, but it should be considered where it came from. All of it is straight out of the mind of a woman with a clear creative vision, one which she has executed for the first time into a project full of loving detail. It's like Wes Anderson shot a musical based on a fever dream Tim Burton had about Mean Girls. Whilst it's ultimately missing the sarcastic, flawed, slightly scary side of the Cry Baby character we saw from Martinez's first music videos, it's a visually impeccable continuation of her story - and it's definitely a lot more interesting than a typical day at school.
Just when a cool metaphor is shown through the visuals, Melanie (as a character) must explain it in narration or forced dialogue. While Melanie has some interesting metaphors and concepts, she isn't a scriptwriter and hence most of her writing completely overrules the show-don't-tell rule in cinema. While it's good that she might have wanted to tell a very personal story, there are some techniques in scriptwriting that shouldn't be ignored.
Similarly, Melanie directing a work she is starring in and wrote really messed up some of the shots. You can tell there's some clunkiness in the transitions between shots and that whoever planned the shots/directed the shoot, didn't really have a strong grasp of certain shooting techniques especially regarding choice of shots.
One way she could have improved this is actually really simple: she could have not starred in it. Sometimes what you need is to take a step back and see the film as a whole.
One good thing, however, was the absolutely stunning cinematography, which kudos to Josh McKie on that one! The beautiful cinematography and aesthetic only goes to show how wonderful this movie could have been if it was a collaborative effort rather than just Martinez trying to do everything.
Having said that, the music was awesome and the musical parts weren't cringey. Set and costume was great.
Personally, I was rather engaged by the film - for example, when Crybaby roasts the boy before Drama Club starts... IT WAS SO GOOD. I am a fan of the ending as well because Melanie looking back at the society she have freed and wanting to be part of it, at the same time wants to help someone else ...how else could it have ended? It was a really great ending in my opinion.
There is only a thing that could be improved... the acting. The "Show and Tell" scene had a character going slightly out of character for a moment but HEY it's still nice.
The touch on LGBTQ+ community was interesting. Despite the short showtime, it shows the lack of concern for a minority of population and it was not over-emphasized too much so... the plot was properly organised I'd say.
This movie definitely leaves a lot of possible theories because of the uncertainties but this only reveals the professionalism Melanie Martinez has. Great job! Loved the movie and loved the album. Worth the hype :)