John Waters' underrated and often overlooked Pecker finds a fitting home in Weird Wednesday at Alamo Drafthouse. The cherished Baltimore filmmaker writes another love letter to his hometown with what is potentially his most self-reflexive work. Edward Furlong (American History X, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) plays Pecker, a teenaged amateur photographer who documents the eccentricities of his family, friends and neighbors. His life changes when a trendy Manhattan art dealer played by Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol, The Notorious Bettie Page) turns Pecker into an overnight art world sensation, but when his newfound fame brings unexpected meddling in the lives of his beloved Baltimoreans, Pecker has to decide whether fancy cameras and fancier friends are worth it.
Pecker serves as John Waters' return to subversive humor and R-ratings following his successful "wholesome" hat trick of Hairspray (1988), Cry-Baby (1990), and Serial Mom (1994). Lacking the uber raunch and shock-value of his earliest works, Pecker in moments can feel like watered-down Waters, but what emerges in its place is a community-oriented sweetness and a more clearly articulated class consciousness. What Pecker winds up defending is not only the desire to keep Baltimore "weird," but also to keep his mother able to continue giving fashion advice to homeless clientele in her thrift shop, and to protect the sexual autonomy of patrons at the local go-go bar. These layers turn the more classic Waters humors about tebagging nights at the Fudge Palace into surprisingly heartwarming fare.