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Pecker

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Pecker

Starring: Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci
Director: John Waters
Rated: R
RunTime: 87 Minutes
Release Date: September 1998
Genre: Comedy


*Also starring: Mary Kay Place, Brendan Sexton III, Martha Plimpton, Mink Stole, Lili Taylor, Bess Armstrong, Patricia Hearst, Mary Vivian Pearce



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1.  Greg King review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Jerry Saravia read the review ---
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5.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Greg King
3 stars out of 4

Over the past decade, John Waters seems to have adopted a more mainstream ethos with his decidedly off beat comedies that satirise certain elements of contemporary culture (Hairspray, Cry Baby and Serial Mom). However, Baltimore's most notorious cult film maker has still not lost his flair for tasteless and tacky observations about human nature. Those more familiar with Waters' past work will probably not be surprised that the director seems to have mellowed with age and experience. Nor will they be overly surprised at the almost uncharacteristic restraint shown in Pecker. Although Pecker is nowhere near as outrageous as his earlier films (Pink Flamingos, etc), there are still many moments in this clever and quite funny film that will shock or upset some elements within the audience.

One of Waters' better and more accessible films, Pecker is a dry, witty and deliciously off beat take on the nature of celebrity, which often comes at a high price. This is territory that has been explored recently by Woody Allen (Celebrity) and Ron Howard (Edtv), but Waters gives us his own idiosyncratic take on the issue. The film also pricks the pretensions of the sycophantic art world and New York (although sometimes the two are synonymous). Waters also takes a gentle swipe at the narrow minded attitudes and hypocrisy of the working class in insular, small town America.

Pecker primarily traces the loss of innocence of its eponymous hero, played with a wonderful combination of appeal and naiveté by T2's Edward Furlong. Eighteen year old Pecker is an amateur photographer who snaps candid shots of the residents of his hometown of Hampden. When he arranges a small exhibition inside the sandwich shop where he works, Pecker's life changes. He is discovered by Rorey (Lily Taylor, from I Shot Andy Warhol, etc), a voracious New York dealer who quickly transforms him into the next big thing in the art world.

But as fame and potential fortune are Pecker's for the taking, he finds that the unwelcome spotlight of media attention also falls on his culturally challenged family as well as his friends. His girlfriend Shelley (beautifully played by teen indy queen Christina Ricci, in a role originally intended for Ricki Lake), who officiously runs the town's laundromat, finds herself alienated from Pecker and his sudden fame. His kleptomaniac best friend Matt (played with enthusiasm by Brendon Sexton III, from Hurricane Streets, etc) also finds his lifestyle altered as he is unable to enter those stores where he practised his "five fingered discounts."

Even the townsfolk of Hampden turn on the gay subculture and the sleazier elements that they had reluctantly tolerated for years, until they were thrust into the public spotlight through Pecker's pictures. Pecker is faced with the choice of pursuing his art at all costs or returning to the unassuming small town amateur he once was.

Waters traces Pecker's getting of wisdom with a raunchy humour and a real affection for the character. He obviously identifies strongly with Pecker, and Furlong's sympathetic portrayal also endears him to the audience. The ensemble cast all deliver solid performances and bring to life Waters' wonderfully colourful gallery of eccentric characters.

Copyright © 1998 Greg King

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