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
Gary Dumm: longtime American Splendor artist is the gray-haired man getting his copy of "Our Cancer Year" autographed. See more »
The circumstances of the Pekars adopting Danielle were fabricated for the film. Among other things, Frank Stack (the artist who helped Joyce put together "Our Cancer Year") is not Danielle's biological father. See more »
[the real Harvey Pekar introduces his on-screen character]
OK. This guy here, he's our man, all grown up and going nowhere. Although he's a pretty scholarly cat, he never got much of a formal education. For the most part, he's lived in shit neighborhoods, held shit jobs, and he's now knee-deep into a disastrous second marriage. So, if you're the kind of person looking for romance or escapism or some fantasy figure to save the day... guess what? You've got the wrong movie.
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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.
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