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American Splendor (2003)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 38,415 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 223 user | 181 critic | 42 from Metacritic.com

An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.

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(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 & 38 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esplendor americano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£135,568 (UK) (2 January 2004)

Gross:

£306,630 (UK) (9 January 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Harvey Pekar first guest stars on Late Night with David Letterman (1982), Joyce is in the waiting room with a man with an alligator (Terrence Sullivan). This was originally intended to be a cameo by John Waters. See more »

Goofs

When Joyce Brabner is running through her personality disorder diagnoses, before she says her "delusions of grandeur" line, we see the phone and an open Fruit Cup near it. The scene is set in the 1980s, and the plastic fruit cups weren't on store shelves until the late-'90s or early 2000s. See more »

Quotes

Harvey Pekar: My name is Harvey Pekar - that's an unusual name - Harvey Pekar. 1960 was the year I got my first apartment and my first phone book. Now imagine my surprise when I looked up my name and saw that in addition to me, another Harvey Pekar was listed. Now I was listed as "Harvey L. Pekar", my middle name is Lawrence, and he was listed as "Harvey Pekar" therefore his was a - was a pure listing. Then in the '70s, I noticed that a third Harvey Pekar was listed in the phone book, now this filled me with...
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Soundtracks

Lady Be Good
(1924)
(Published as "Oh, Lady Be Good!")
Music by George Gershwin (as George)
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Performed by Dizzy Gillespie
Courtesy of Savoy Records and June St Entertainment
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Something different.
14 February 2004 | by (Glasgow, Scotland) – See all my reviews

By no means your average true story, American Splendor blends fact with fiction to create a slightly surreal world. Surreal, because it's so down-to-earth. It's a tale about the life of Harvey Pekar, essentially a relative non-entity. His one saving grace is that he writes comic books, the twist being that they're not about superheroes or anything extraordinary. Rather, they're about gritty reality. Pekar is the star of his own stories, and the life he leads, the people he knows and the everyday things he does are the essence of what his stories entail.

It's a strange story, and to rate it as a movie seems odd, somehow. The guy has led a pretty staple life, and there's nothing in it which elevates him above anyone else. Then again, that's really the point. There are plenty of elements in here which we can all relate to, and consequently, we find ourselves drawn into it. Ultimately it's convincing.

The acting is generally pretty impressive, particularly from Paul Giamatti as Harvey. Given the real Harvey features in the movie (Hence the blending of fact and fiction) we are able to compare them, and it must be said Giamatti gets it spot on. He does a great job of portraying a grump with a heart. By no means is Pekar ever shown as a mercenary worker, but it's pretty obvious he's one of the good guys; hence another strength here. Because he's shown as wysiwyg, you feel like you either know him, or are him. He's the epitome of your average man, and not even just American.

It's a quirky subject for a movie, but it certainly works and entertains. It's so ordinary yet surreal that it demands your attention, and it's a worthwhile journey to go on.

For many people, this movie is a mirror.


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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