American Splendor (2003)

R  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  12 September 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 40,718 users   Metascore: 90/100
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An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.


(comic book series American Splendor), (comic book series Our Cancer Year), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 30 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Ambrose ...
Joey Krajcar ...
Cameron Carter ...
Interviewer (voice)
Larry John Meyers ...
Throat Doctor (as Larry John Myers)
Vivienne Benesch ...
Mr. Boats


Harvey Pekar is file clerk at the local VA hospital. His interactions with his co-workers offer some relief from the monotony, and their discussions encompass everything from music to the decline of American culture to new flavors of jellybeans and life itself. At home, Harvey fills his days with reading, writing and listening to jazz. His apartment is filled with thousands of books and LPs, and he regularly scours Cleveland's thrift stores and garage sales for more, savoring the rare joy of a 25-cent find. It is at one of these junk sales that Harvey meets Robert Crumb, a greeting card artist and music enthusiast. When, years later, Crumb finds international success for his underground comics, the idea that comic books can be a valid art form for adults inspires Harvey to write his own brand of comic book. An admirer of naturalist writers like Theodore Dreiser, Harvey makes his American Splendor a truthful, unsentimental record of his working-class life, a warts-and-all self portrait... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esplendor americano  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$159,705 (USA) (15 August 2003)


£306,630 (UK) (9 January 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The jacket that Paul Giamatti wears for Harvey's first Late Night with David Letterman (1982) appearance is the exact same piece of clothing that we see the real Harvey Pekar wearing on the TV. See more »


Joyce Brabner comes by train from Delaware to Cleveland to meet Harvey Pekar in 1984. However, the Genesis engine shown pulling the train did not enter Amtrak's fleet until 1993, and the Amtrak logo on the engine is the post-Acela version (2000). See more »


Joyce Brabner: I'm a self-diagnosed anemic.
See more »


Referenced in Dead Scared (2004) See more »


On the Sunny Side of the Street
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Performed by Lester Young & The Oscar Peterson Trio
Courtesy of the Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A True Super-Hero!
30 January 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Throughout the years, people have read dozens of comic books: Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Green Latern, X-Men, Hulk, etc., looking for escape from reality, but at the same time, looking for a relation from those books. With "American Splendor" on the other hand, it's quite a different comic book. What makes it so special? It's depicting real life where it shows the character Harvey Pekar in different situations.

"American Splendor" is a comic/drama biography about the life of Harvey Pekar(Played by Paul Giamatti) in which the film plays like a comic book showing scenes that are real and fiction. Even the real Harvey makes appearances quite often in the film to talk about his life, his wife(Joyce) and everything that sort of made him the person who he is today.

Harvey Pekar can be described as one of those characters who don't seem to give a damn about the world. The reason that I root for this character is that he's the type person that lives in his own world, from not giving a crap about the incidents in the world, to not having a formal college education, to working at a dead end job where in the future, people are still laughing at him. And yet, I don't blame him. I am reminded of two other movies that had losers, but made an impact on male society: "The Big Lebowski" and "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" in which both male characters didn't have to worry about anything or go out on dates, or even pleasing society(shame on you, people).

All in All, American Splendor is a great movie. Though the film's target audience are for guys, I still encourage people to see this movie. The film also stars, Hope Davis portraying Harvey's wife, Joyce.

One of the Best Films!

23 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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