7.5/10
42,220
226 user 179 critic

American Splendor (2003)

Trailer
2:17 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $9.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
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 »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 31 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Ghost World (2001)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson
Crumb (1994)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb
Sideways (2004)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Starting from childhood attempts at illustration, the protagonist pursues his true obsession to art school. But as he learns how the art world really works, he finds that he must adapt his vision to the reality that confronts him.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich
Happiness (1998)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The lives of several individuals intertwine as they go about their lives in their own unique ways, engaging in acts society as a whole might find disturbing in a desperate search for human connection.

Director: Todd Solondz
Stars: Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Follows two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.

Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An unattractive seventh grader struggles to cope with inattentive parents, snobbish classmates, a smart older brother, an attractive younger sister, and her own insecurities in suburban New Jersey.

Director: Todd Solondz
Stars: Heather Matarazzo, Christina Brucato, Victoria Davis
Adaptation. (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen.

Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper
Win Win (2011)
Comedy | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach's chicanery comes back to haunt him when the teenage grandson of the client he has double-crossed comes into his life.

Director: Tom McCarthy
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor
Garden State (2004)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother's funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

Director: Zach Braff
Stars: Zach Braff, Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman
High Fidelity (2000)
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Rob, a record store owner and compulsive list maker, recounts his top five breakups, including the one in progress.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso
Elephant (2003)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Elias McConnell, Alex Frost, Eric Deulen
Edit

Cast

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

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esplendor americano  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

One scene features a reconstruction of Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti ) appearing on Late Night with David Letterman (1982), criticizing NBC while wearing a T-shirt with "On Strike Against NBC" written on it. Giamatti previously played an NBC executive in Private Parts (1997) and in one scene watches in dismay as Howard Stern criticizes the network while appearing on the same show, wearing a T-shirt with the same words written on it. 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

Mattress Guy #1: So is the girl smart?
Mattress Guy #2: Well, I guess she's about average.
Mattress Guy #1: Average! Man, average is dumb!
See more »

Connections

Features Late Night with David Letterman (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Taint Nobody's Bizness (If I Do)
(1923)
Written by Everett Robbins and Porter Grainger
Performed by Jay McShann
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
American brilliance
9 September 2003 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

I must confess that I was a bit apprehensive in going to see this film. I thought it would be one of those movies that are hyped to the max by the adoring critics, but that it would turn out to be a darling of the reviewers and not the great film everyone was making it to be.

Well, I was thoroughly surprised by the brilliant film making shown by the directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. They have created a film that works in different levels. First, it is the story of Harvey Pekar told in cinematic terms. Secondly, by presenting the real Harvey Pekar to speak to the camera as he is interviewed, it adds another dimension about the directors' vision in bringing him to us to tell us in his own words, that yes, there is a real person whose life we are getting to know. And thirdly, it works as the weird comic strip that Harvey Pekar might have conceived in his mind.

Harvey Pekar is an example of a strange man who lives and functions within the American society, yet, for all practical purposes, he is in his own little world of collecting books and records and writing his wry observations on what he sees around him. Are we to say we are normal and Harry is not? What if it turns out that Harvey had it all figured out and we had no clue? Let the viewer decide for himself.

The directors great achievement is the brilliant casting. Paul Giamatti is the closest thing anyone would have selected to the real Harvey. Up to now, I have only seen Mr. Giamatti in comedies that didn't have the weight of this film. His take on Harvey is so intense that there are parts when we see the actor and immediately, the real Harvey comes on a different scene. Separating them is almost impossible, as Giamatti's performance leads to Harvey and vice versa. He is totally believable here. He proves that whatever he is doing on screen is what we would expect the real Harvey to do on his own life.

The other incredible casting is the one of Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner. Ms. Davis gets the essence of Joyce with very little effort. We can almost see that the Joyce of Hope Davis will result in the actual Joyce we see in the interviews as herself. The resemblance is uncanny. Ms. Davis is outstanding in the film. We wonder what could have attracted her to Harvey, in the first place. Of course, we realize her passion for comics, but on a physical level, these two, as a couple, are miles and miles apart. Yet, their marriage, unlike Harvey's other two before her, survives and grows.

Ms. Davis scenes with the young Danielle are pure poetry. We can see it in her face that motherhood for her is very important, yet, she cannot have a child of her own with Harvey. She is thoroughly rewarded at the end with the arrival of Danielle who finds in Joyce a kind soul and a mother because her real one could not be bothered with her.

The rest of the cast is just as magnificent. Judah Friedlander as Toby is both funny and pathetic. He is another product of the society he lives in. Also effective, James Urbaniak as the illustrator Bob Crumb who sees in Harvey's stories the potential for great comic books.

This is a triumph for all that were involved in this film.


44 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
RIP Harvey Pekar Guy-Montag
Is this this best Comic Book related movie? MovieRevolt
top 250 cappiello
Revenge of the Nerds question..... lugosi-11
Best psuedo-documentary black comedy-drama biopic comic adaptation ever? Scottie_Burnham
Isn´t it sad ? Rectangular_businessman
Discuss American Splendor (2003) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?