There are always films that you are better off renting on video than seeing at
a theater. "Pink Flamingos" is one of those films that I wish I had seen in a
theater - it's designed for the midnight movie circuit. "Pecker" is one of
those films designed for the Staten Island trash circuit. It is not meant to be
seen in any cinematic form. It is so thoroughly revolting and unfunny that I
have to hold my breath to remind myself that director John Waters made it.
Revolting may not be the best term to use for "Pecker," since John Waters used
to be the king of bad taste (hence "Pink Flamingos"). I am more astonished by
how putrid the writing and directing are in "Pecker" - it has no redeeming
This trash concerns a kid named Pecker (Edward Furlong), who works at a
sandwich store in the run-down section of Baltimore. He constantly snaps photos
of everything he sees, including steaks; his girlfriend's breasts; his sugar
freak sister; a group of men "teabagging" customers at a local club; his best
friend (Brendan Sexton III) posing before shoplifting from supermarkets; his
grandmother's Virgin Mary statue, and on and on...But is any of this funny or
remotely engaging? No.
Before you know it, Pecker is discovered by a New York art dealer (Lili Taylor)
and becomes a media sensation, as does his whole family. He appears on the
cover of Vogue magazine, invites comparison to Diane Arbus, and attracts the
attention of the famous photographer Cindy Sherman! But this story of how fame
and fortune can be more damaging than staying true to yourself is a theme that
has been done to death, and Waters does nothing to keep it new, fresh or
The actors are embarrassingly bland and uninvolving, including the always
sprightly Lili Taylor. Furlong exudes little charisma or depth, and Christina
Ricci as Pecker's girlfriend - an expert on stains - is needlessly over-the-top
and unintelligible at times. The only actor that delivers an ounce of wit is
Waters regular Mink Stole, as a voting booth attendant - she makes the screen
sparkle for the few seconds she appears.
"Pecker" is brainless, unrewarding junk that will make you wince at how
shockingly bad it is. Almost every scene is flatly staged and acted. Along with
"Cry-Baby," this is Waters at the extreme bottom-of-the-barrel level.
Copyright © 1998 Jerry Saravia