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Pecker Movie Review

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Pecker. It's not what you think. Edward Furlong's character is called Pecker because he pecked at his food as a little boy. Pecker is nutty about photography. He takes pictures of anyone and everyone in his much-loved Baltimore, Maryland, neighborhood. Pecker's grandmother is Memama (Jean Schertler), who believes that her Virgin Mary statue can really talk (even though her own lips are moving). Pecker's mom is Joyce (Mary Kay Place), a thrift shop owner who sells clothes to the homeless for quarters and dimes. Pecker's older sister is Tina (Martha Plimpton), who works at a gay bar called the Fudge Palace. Pecker's younger sister is Little Chrissy (Lauren Hulsey), a sugarholic. Pecker's girlfriend is Shelly (Christina Ricci), a laundromat manager. Pecker's best friend is Matt (Brendan Sexton III), a shoplifter. Everyone in Baltimore, Maryland, is happy and then Pecker decides to exhibit his work in a burger shop. A real, live art dealer from New York City (Lili Taylor as Rorey Wheeler) loves Pecker's pictures so much that she buys one for $30 and decides to show the rest in her Manhattan gallery. The whole clan goes to the opening and finds out that Pecker's pictures have taken on a life of their own. They all become instantly famous and everyone who is anyone (including Patty Hearst!) lionizes them. With fame comes notoriety and other problems—people don't want Pecker to take their pictures anymore. People can see Memama's lips moving when her Virgin Mary statue talks. Bess Armstrong as child welfare worker Dr. Klompus puts Little Chrissy on Ritalin. Tina is fired. Shelly is angry at her media tag as a “stain goddess” and even angrier when she sees Rorey making a pass at Pecker. Matt can't shoplift anymore. Fame: Who needs it? For all his reputation as an oddball, director John Waters is just a home town boy at heart. He's made all 13 of his movies in Baltimore and he's never turned into an intellectual Gotham snob or a La La Land fake. He is in his creative heart and soul an innocent riveted by subjects that are basic and simple: Suburbia, Love, Family, and Bad Taste continue to obsess him as a filmmaker. The point of Pecker is so heartwarmingly artless it could be taught in Sunday School if it weren't for the Fudge Palace and the lesbian strip club and Little Chrissy snorting green peas like crack. Pecker is a sweet hoot of a flick, Furlong and Ricci are charming together, and Mary Kay Place, the hardest working and most underrated character actress of the late 20th century, turns in another gem of a performance.

1998 (R) 87m/C Edward Furlong, Lili Taylor, Christina Ricci, Martha Plimpton, Mary Kay Place, Brendan Sexton III, Mark Joy, Mink Stole, Bess Armstrong, Patty Hearst, Mary Vivian Pearce, Lauren Hulsey, Jean Schertler; D: John Waters; W: John Waters; C: Robert Stevens; M: Stewart Copeland. National Board of Review Awards ‘98: Best Supporting Actress (Ricci). VHS, DVD

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