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American Splendor (2003)

R  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  12 September 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 40,491 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 225 user | 178 critic | 42 from

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 33 wins & 39 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?


All of the "white room" documentary scenes were filmed in one day. See more »


The exterior front of the comic book store shows a wooden structure with windows that reach about half way up the height of the building and a wooden door with a glass section in it. The interior view shows glass extending from the ceiling to the floor and no wooden door. See more »


Harvey Pekar: You don't have any problems with moving to Cleveland?
Joyce Brabner: Not really. I find most American cities to be depressing in the same way.
Harvey Pekar: And you're OK with the vasectomy thing?
See more »


Featured in The Hour: Episode #7.58 (2010) See more »


All Black and White
Written by Clair Marlo and Alexander Baker (as Alexander 'Ace' Baker)
Performed by Studio Musicians
Courtesy of FirstCom Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Fascinating Wackos
15 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I guess I am sucker for biographies of weird people. This certainly qualifies for that.

What makes this film different from others is the combination of fictional and real people playing the two main characters: Harvey and Joyce Pekar. For most of the film, Paul Giamatti portrays Pekar - the main focus of the film, and Hope Davis plays his wife, Joyce. However, interspersed in the film are comments from the real Harvey and Joyce. Strange!!!

The only thing stranger that the film structure is the story of these actual people. You wouldn't think that two dull introverts like this could be made to look so interesting, but they are. What a testimony to the job the filmmakers did here....and the actors. Giamatti was amazing.

After seeing this movie, I was inspired to go out and obtain several of Harvey Pekar's comic books. Whew! I should have stuck with just the movie. The comics stink!! Don't waste your money.

23 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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