Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"Waters' targets are tame and easy to hit."

John Waters was accused of being a dog turd away from hardcore filth, with Mondo Trasho and Pink Flamingos, in the old days. Now he is accepted as Baltimore's second favourite son (after Barry Levinson) and considered with some seriousness by the wrinkly buffs of academe. Pecker follows Slaves Of New York and others in taking the urine out of the fashionable art world, not a difficult task when elephant dung is hailed as a return to tradition at this year's Turner prize.

Pecker (Edward Furlong) is a nice teenage boy, who works at the corner diner and has a prickly girlfriend (Christina Ricci), who manages the neighbourhood Laundromat. Ever since his mom gave him a second-hand camera, he has been snapping everything in sight, from copulating mice to lesbian strippers across the street from his dad's bar. He puts on a show at the diner. An East coast dealer (Lili Taylor) happens to be in town, sees it, brings him and his pictures to New York and makes him the latest big thing ("A humane Diane Arbus") - cue pretentious critspeak, artophile networkage and media bandwagoning.

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Waters presents his Baltimore innocents as castaways from It's A Wonderful Life. Even the gay club, where Pecker's sister (Martha Plimpton) works, is a fun place for hetero hunks to strut their stuff. His targets are tame and so easy to hit. There's no sport in it. The message (sigh!) is that there's no place like home. The most shocking image, captured by the boy genius, framed, hung and admired as abstract art, is a close-up of female pubic hair. Hardly enough to picket the cinema. Or queue to see.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A diner employee becomes an overnight art sensation.
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Director: John Waters

Writer: John Waters

Starring: Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci, Bess Armstrong, Mark Joy, Mary Kay Place, Martha Plimpton, Brendan Sexton III, Mink Stole, Lili Taylor, Patricia Hearst, Jean Schertler

Year: 1998

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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