An unabashed love letter to the joys of Baltimore, specifically Hampden, and to the power of obsession, whether it be for photography, Laundromats, pit beef, or the Virgin Mary, Pecker is John Waters at his most lighthearted and humane. Granted, viewers might never think of the term "tea bag" in the same way after seeing Pecker. And a lesbian strip joint named The Pelt Room might not be suitable for preteens. But there's really very little here to shock a nation that's peeped through the keyhole with Ken Starr. In fact, Pecker could be quite empowering for teenagers who wonder if they should follow their dreams or go for that business degree at Towson University.
The title character, played by Edward Furlong (Terminator II), becomes obsessed with taking photos after finding a camera in his mom's (Mary Kay Place) 36th Street thrift shop. An exhibit of his photos in the sub shop where Pecker works catches the eye of Rorey Wheeler (Lili Taylor), a New York gallery owner visiting Baltimore. Before you can say "cheese," the Hampden kid is the toast of the New York art world. It's not quite rags to riches, but it's close. And, as in any such tale, the riches come at a price.
Shelley (The Opposite of Sex's Christina Ricci), dominatrix of the local launderette, fears she's losing Pecker to Rorey, while his best pal Matt (Brendan Sexton III) finds that his newfound notoriety as one of Pecker's principal subjects is crimping his style as a shoplifter. Pecker's beloved grandmother, Memamma (Jean Schertler), faces condemnation from the Catholic Church because of her ventriloquism with a statue of the Blessed Mother. And Pecker's entire family, including his dad Jimmy (Mark Joy) and sugar-addicted baby sister Little Chrissy (Lauren Hulsey), find themselves referred to in art columns as "culturally challenged."
Waters mixes all of this up in a fast, hilarious fashion, in a cinematic voice that is now as distinct and iconic as that of a John Ford Western. Only with way more gay jokes.