Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pecker - 1998

"Pecker" - 1998
Dir. by John Waters - 1 hr. 26 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

There's a weird plasticity to John Waters films that I don't often see elsewhere (particularly in his more recent material), sort of an artificial veneer that keeps the viewer at arms length.  I suppose it's a coping mechanism to prevent viewers from truly locking into some of the odder characters in the films.  And it works well if you're dealing with supporting, one-note characters (both Christina Ricci's laundromat-obsessed Shelley and Martha Plimpton's Tina, who tends bar at a gay strip club and calls everyone "Mary," male or female, are great in their roles), where it's more than enough for them to wander through the plot at opportune times, honed into their individual obsessions, making near-non sequitur comments.

But when it comes to the titular main character, played by Edward Furlong, there's just no meat there.  He coasts along through the movie with the same single-minded focus, snapping pictures of literally everything around him.  There's no emotional depth whatsoever, so it makes it difficult to care about him or his family.  A viewer has to be able to invest in a main character one way or another before a story can really take hold, and that never happens at any point.

Having said that, "Pecker" is still a fun, quick, breezy film (if you consider lines like "Pubic hair causes crime!" to be fun, which I certainly do.  Underneath the intentional cheesiness and shock tactics, there's a legitimate debate about the role of art in a society (despite the somewhat tired trope of smaller towns being more "authentic") - Waters argues that art can be made by and relate to everyday people instead of solely among an elite, disconnected class, which is a message that would be useful for more people to hear.  This movie is also notable for introducing the term "tea-bagging" into the lexicon, and I have to admit I laughed pretty hard over it (especially the sound effect - a dull thump upon impact).

Generally speaking, I enjoyed the movie, and I imagine I'll watch it again at some point. I'm still working my way through John Waters' movies, no end in sight.

3 / 5 - DVD

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