Pecker (1998)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Media Satire  |   Release Date - Sep 25, 1998 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

The strongest of John Waters' post-Hairspray Hollywood films, this gentle satire offers something neither the flat Serial Mom nor the bombastic Cecil B. Demented could muster: characters whose tics and schtick recall the director's best underground work, but who still seem only half a step removed from reality. Waters regulars Patty Hearst and Mink Stole don't have nearly enough to do, but the rest of the cast is a who's who of indie and comedy talent, from sitcom royalty Mary Kay Place to '80s survivors Lili Taylor and Martha Plimpton and '90s kids Christina Ricci and Brendan Sexton Jr. As Pecker, the outsider artist suddenly embraced by the tastemakers and the money people, Edward Furlong displays a sweetness and vulnerability that didn't always come across in his earlier work; in fact, the entire film is suffused with a good-heartedness that's miles away from Waters classics such as Pink Flamingos. Critical reception centered on the parallels between Pecker's experiences and those of former guerilla filmmaker Waters, both of whom have a knack for turning folks on to the freaks who lurk just out of middle-class sight. Ultimately, though, it's the character-driven humor and a clutch of first-rate running gags that invest Pecker with its considerable quirky charm.