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the pathetic caverns - movies by title - Pecker

eclectic reviews and opinions


1998, D & S: John Waters

As we cued up Pecker, my girlfriend confessed that she'd been too squeamish to ever see a John Waters picture all the way through. But Waters left the extremes of films like Pink Flamingos, or even Polyester, behind years ago and, in the meantime, the mainstream has gotten ever grosser. Depending on your taste, the most disturbing thing in Pecker is probably either the drool of a slack-jawed young sugar fiend or the sight of jockstrapped-testicles briefly brushing a bald pate -- and neither would be too much for a Farrelly brothers movie.

Instead of fearlessly probing society's underbelly, the modern John Waters mythicizes Baltimore with a romantic, nostalgiac eye. The city's streets are seamy enough to be quaintly intriguing, but never dangerous. Pecker's rags-to-riches tale of a young photographer sets up a confrontation between down-home Charm City and uberhip Manhattan that never quite materializes. Even the barbs aimed at New York's notoriously faddish art scene are Nerf-tipped. As a result, Pecker is merely pleasant, never uproarious. Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci and Lili Taylor underwhelm in untaxing roles. Good perhaps for a few chuckles, but not for guffaws.

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