Pecker (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes


Pecker (1998)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Pecker Photos

Movie Info

John Waters wrote and directed this $6.5 million satire on the Manhattan art world, a rags-to-riches comedy about 18-year-old amateur photographer Pecker (so named because he pecks at his food). Pecker (Edward Furlong) is a blue-collar kid who works in a Baltimore sandwich shop and takes snapshots of family, friends, and customers. His mom, Joyce (Mary Kay Place) runs a thrift shop where she offers fashion advice to the homeless, while sis Tina (Martha Plimpton) recruits go-go boys to dance at the local Fudge Palace. Pecker's younger sister, Little Chrissy (Lauren Hulsey), has a sugar addiction, and his grandmother, Memama (Jean Schertler), the "pit beef" queen of Baltimore, conducts prayer meetings with her talking statue of Mary. After hip Manhattan art dealer Rorey Wheeler (Lili Taylor) becomes fascinated with Pecker's photos, a big exhibition is in the offing, followed by overnight fame as the young man becomes the new darling of the New York art scene. Soon Pecker discovers that fame has its price. Shown at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

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Bess Armstrong
as Dr. Klompus
Mark Joy
as Jimmy
Lili Taylor
as Rorey Wheeler
Mink Stole
as Precinct Captain
Patricia Hearst
as Lynn Wentworth
Lauren Hulsey
as Little Chrissy
Donald Neal
as Mr. Bozak
Carolyn Stayer
as Miss Betty
Jack Webster
as Outsider Al
Alan J. Wendl
as Mr. Nellbox
Judith Knight Young
as `Fat & Furious' Lady
Anthony Rogers
as Billy Heckman, `Death Row Dave'
Billy Tolzman
as Seafood Sam
Brian Thomas
as Larry the Lughead
Tim Caggiano
as Lester Hallbrook
Betsy Ames
as Venetia Keydash
Scott Morgan
as Jed Coleman
Valerie Karasek
as Redd Larchmont
Joyce Flick Wendl
as Street Lady
Liam Hughes
as Wild Man of 22nd Street
Greg Gorman
as Himself
Mary Vivan Pierce
as Homophobic Lady
Kennen Sisco
as Art Fan A
Angela Calo
as Pregnant Girl
Susan Duvall
as Saleswoman
Ruth Lawson Walsh
as Sneaky Customer
Adin Alai Daniel
as Body Builder
Brigid Berlin
as Super Market Rich Lady
Kimberlee Suerth
as Beautiful Girl
John Badila
as Irate Manager
Susan Lowe
as Hairdresser
Marisa Zalabak
as Makeup Artist
Sharon Nelsp
as Bouncer
Delaney Williams
as Construction Worker
Bobby Brown
as Average Joe
Tyler Miller
as Randy, Blind Photographer
Channing Wilroy
as Wise Guy Neighbor
Rosemary Knower
as Friend of Mary A
Kate Kiley
as Friend of Mary B
Doug Roberts
as Mr. Heckman, Death Row Dave's Father
Holly Twyford
as Straight Girl
Joshua L. Shoemaker
as Channel 11 Anchor
Sloane Brown
as Sloane Brown, Channel 45 Anchor
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Critic Reviews for Pecker

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (9)

A transparent, laugh-free parable about Waters' own rise to fame.

May 4, 2005 | Rating: D+ | Full Review…

Some scenes are so flat we squint a little at the screen, trying to see why anyone thought they might be funny.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Potentially [John Waters's] most self-reflexive work.

March 27, 2019 | Full Review…

Too soon though, this rise-and-fall-and- rise saga of an obsessed young photographer begins to sag into a one-note refrain.

June 5, 2018 | Full Review…

There are many odd treats, like seeing former SLA hostage Patty Hearst dancing on a bar in a low-cut slip and getting a crash course in "tea-baggng."

November 26, 2009 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Pecker is Hairspray with Kodak film stock, or Crybaby without the juvenile delinquency angle

August 22, 2005 | Rating: 92/100 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pecker

It's hard to describe director John Waters and his idiosyncratic style but if I had to try, I'd compare him to David Lynch on amphetamine's. He's done some seriously wacky comedies over the years. Some of which been referred to as "deliberate exercises in ultra-bad taste". He had been around since the 1960's before making a name for himself with "Hairspray" in 1988. An early Johnny Depp film - "Cry Baby" followed and then he directed Kathleen Turner in the hilarious "Serial Mom". Those who have heard of him will know what to expect. Those who haven't should be warned; Waters certainly doesn't water down his humour. A young man named "Pecker" (Edward Furlong) who works at a Baltimore sandwich shop also has a real talent for taking photographs. He's forever snapping things that most people wouldn't even think of. When a New York art dealer (Lili Taylor) sees his work, he becomes an overnight sensation in the art world. As mentioned, Waters' films are somewhat like the lighter side to the nightmares of Lynch. He has the same off-beat and occasional surreal approach but rather than delve into the darker recesses of the subconscious, he plays it all for laughs. His more recent efforts have not been entirely successful and his brand of uncouth and crass humour will certainly not appeal to everyone but Pecker is one of his most accomplished and audience friendly pieces. Where he excels is in his array of very colourful characters - and this film has plenty of them. Pecker's family are a real bunch dysfunctional delights; his mother Joyce (Mary Kay Place) likes to accessorise the fashion of homeless people; his father Jimmy (Mark Joy) is an advocate for the public showing of pubic hair being made illegal; his grandmother 'Memama' (Jean Schertler) is a ventriloquist with a statue of the virgin Mary; his younger sister Little Chrissy (Lauren Hulsey) has an addictive personality, that begins with sugar before moving onto Ritalin and snorting vegetables and his older sister Tina (Martha Plimpton) runs a gay bar where "teabagging" (the slapping of testicles on a person's forehead) is a custom that's expected within the establishment. Pecker himself is just a naive, but likeable, photographer who captures all this mayhem on his camera and this is only his family. There are many others, that include his kleptomaniac friend Matt (Brendan Sexton III) and characters that dry hump washing machines on spin cycles. By now, you'll gather that Waters' bad taste is still alive and well but what makes it all the more hysterical is that the actors all play it straight, making the zany situations that befall them all the more entertaining. Waters, most certainly, depicts this Baltimore slice-of-life with real zest and zaniness and, at times, his sheer audacity and outrageousness is gut-wrenchingly funny but while all this is going on, he still manages to take a pop at the pretentious, snooty-nosed, yuppies of the New York art scene. As a self confessed Waters fan, I greatly enjoyed this lighthearted, quirky gem. It will not be a comedy that will appeal to everyone but if you enjoy your humour a little more on the edgy and surreal side, then this should do nicely.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

John Waters could made Pecker a better film that is. But still been a fun entertaining.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer


A John Waters tongue in cheek story of finding happiness at home. Campy and fun.

Thomas Johnston
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

Pecker Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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