Pecker is a pleasant yet ephemeral and harmless tale of a working-class teenager who becomes a celeb photographer despite himself. Lagging behind the zeitgeist, as far as what the public already knows about fame, Pecker induces some smiles but is utterly forgettable.

Shot in Waters' home turf, Baltimore, this amiable satire doesn't have much to say about the culture of celebrity, nor is it biting in the manner of Waters' previous efforts.

With the exception of a few shots of rats having sex–a motif in Waters' work–Pecker is more in the vein of the nostalgic Hairspray and Cry Baby than the black comedy Serial Mom. In fact, if Pecker had been made a decade ago, it would have starred Johnny Depp (who appeared in Cry Baby), a more proper choice for the hero than Edward Furlong.

Furlong plays Pecker, so named for his childhood habit of “pecking” at his food. An congenial adolescent, Pecker works in a sandwich shop, where he cultivates his hobby, snapping photographs of his customers and family.

Congruent with the abundance of dysfunctional families on the American screen, Pecker's family is dubbed in the text as “culturally challenged”: His mom (Mary Kay Place) dispenses fashion tips to the homeless clientele at her thrift shop; his sister Tina (Martha Plimpton) hires go-go boys to dance at the local club, the Fudge Palace; his younger sister, Little Chrissey (Lauren Hulsey) suffers from eating disorders; his grandmother, Memama (Jean Schertler), Baltimore's “pit beef” queen, engages in religious prayers with her talking statue of Mary.

Pecker stumbles into fame when his work is “discovered” by Rorey Wheeler (Lili Taylor), a savvy New York art dealer who becomes smitten with him. Never mind that his photographs are amateurish, grainy, and out-of-focus; they strike a chord with the New York's artsy crowd and soon there is public exhibit and instant fame. However, Pecker has to learn the hard way the price for sudden stardom and over-exposure. Turning into a sensation threatens to destroy the low-key lifestyle that served as his inspiration in the first place.

Pecker's new status means that his buddy Matt (Brendan Sexton III) can't continue to artfully shoplift, and that his sweetheart Shelley (Christina Ricci), who runs a laundromat, becomes distressed when the press label her a “stain goddess,” mistaking her good-natured “pin-up” poses for pornographic come-ons.

Waters tries to energize Pecker as a witty send-up of the contrast between Baltimore's blue collar milieu and New York art world, though he sentimentalizes his working-class characters–and encourages the viewers to feel superior to them too.

Realizing that the narrative is slight, Waters surrounds Pecker with a gallery of eccentric characters, played by actual celebs–a staple of Waters' work. Former beauty queen Bess Armstrong plays Dr. Klompus, Patricia Hearst is a society lady, and regular Mink Stole appears as the precinct captain.