If there is such a thing as an accessible mainstream Jon Waters’s film it would be the 1998 film “Pecker”. Without going into an in-depth biography of his long and storied film career, let's just say he has a passion for the trashy and distasteful. Most all his films take place in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, and are filled with eccentric larger than life characters. While set in Baltimore, the characters of “Pecker” are actually sweet and endearing while being just a little off.
Edward Furlong plays the title character of Pecker, the nickname was earned because of his picky eating habits. When not working at the Sub Pit, he roams the streets with his camera photographing his world. From the rats screwing in the alley to his girlfriend Shelly (Christina Ricci who works at the Spin ’n Grin laundromat. The Sub Pit will eventually become the scene of his photography exhibition that spins his life in a crazy new direction.
This film is jam-packed with interesting characters that occupy Pecker’s life. His kleptomaniac best friend Matt, his Mema and her statue of the Virgin Mary, and we can’t forget his little sister appropriately referred to as Little Chrissy, who ends up trading one addiction for another. His older sister is a bartender at a gay bar, who teaches us about “tea bagging” and his mother who helps the homeless dress in style at her Thrift Shop. Last but not least his father and his bar, that has a stringent belief that pubic hair and liquor don’t mix.
The film's plot is quite simple but well-executed with all the wonderfully drawn characters and Waters signature wicked humor. Pecker’s photo show at the Sub Pit is seen by a New York Gallerist Rorey Wheeler, played by Lili Taylor. She turns Pecker's life upside down with the promise of becoming a famous New York City artist or more likely flavor of the month outsider. Pecker enjoys all the attention but the photos he took are now unwittingly alienating the friends and family of his close-knit neighborhood. This premise has been covered by both “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy”, and probably many other non-animated shows. Waters captures Baltimore as the dirty little stepchild to the glossy sexiness of New York. Also emphasizing that no matter what you can’t escape your roots and home is where the heart is. The film is crafted in such a way that multiple viewings are just as enjoyable as the first. From the Pelt Room to the Fudge Palace, Jon Waters vision of Baltimore is hilariously human and down to earth.