Writer and director John Waters has fashioned a sassy, irreverent movie about art, fame, culture shock, and class consciousness. Pecker (Edward Furlong), who picked up his nickname by pecking at his food as a child, works at a Baltimore sandwich shop. His hobby is photography, and he loves taking pictures of his family. His mother (Mary Kay Place) owns a thrift shop that caters to the homeless; his dad (Mark Joy) runs a bar; Tina (Martha Plimpton), his older sister, hires gay dancers for a local club; Little Chrissy (Lauren Halsey) is a sugar addict; and grandmother (Jean Schertler) communicates with her talking statue of the Virgin Mary.

Once Pecker is discovered by a New York art dealer (Lili Taylor), his life is upended, adversely affecting his relationships with Shelley (Christina Ricci), his sweetheart, and Matt (Brendan Sexton III), his best friend. The wacky Baltimore blue-collar characters are contrasted with the predatory New Yorkers, who eventually are cleverly shafted. This funny film celebrates Pecker's creativity and the way he finds to protect his innate talents from the ravages of success.