7.5/10
43,032
227 user 182 critic

American Splendor (2003)

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

Writers:

(comic book series American Splendor), (comic book series Our Cancer Year) | 2 more credits »

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From $9.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 31 wins & 48 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$6,003,587 (USA) (28 November 2003)
 »

Company Credits

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

Real Toby: [looking at jellybeans on a tray] I think one might be lime. One might be like mint.
Real Harvey: Well, what's the difference between this and this?
Real Toby: One's cherry, one's cinnamon.
Real Harvey: You can tell that by just looking at them?
Real Toby: Not me. I have to put it in my mouth first.
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Soundtracks

Ain't That Peculiar
(1965)
Written by Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers), Smokey Robinson (as William Robinson Jr.),
Marvin Tarplin and Warren Moore
Performed by Marvin Gaye
Courtesy of Motown Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Russian doll
25 November 2004 | by (London,England) – See all my reviews

It's always hardest to write about what you love and I not only love, but also, to steal a joke from Woody Allen in ANNIE HALL, loaf, luff and lerve this magnificent film. Therefore this will be difficult. Here goes anyway...

No-one can possibly deny that this is innovative in its use of the real Harvey Pekar (and people from his life) frequently intruding into the fictionalised account. But this is more than just a neat trick. It works brilliantly. Instead of distancing the viewer from the narrative makes one feel more involved in the film's world. How dare this work? This kind of arty-farty stuff is usually guaranteed to annoy me - but this is nothing short of revelatory in its Russian doll-like idea of having fiction within fiction within fact...and you don't need to be some kind of high-brow film critic to appreciate it!

All the performances are gob-smackingly good, and there isn't one moment in the film that bores, irritates, patronises or rings a false note. The cast inhabit their roles like they were born to play them. and the determination not to idealise them or their situations, makes my cynical anti-Hollywood production values heart sing for joy.

Do not, I beg you, be put off by the epithet "cult" with which this film has been tarred as if it would appeal only to comic-book fans. No, the appeal here is universal - dealing with Pekar's existential worries and his search for the meaning in his life. It's criminal that American SPLENDOR with all its wit, heart and slickness isn't more highly regarded or more widely known.

Masterpiece.


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