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American Splendor (2003)

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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 »

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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
...
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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:

$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

The jacket that Paul Giamatti wears for Harvey's first Late Night with David Letterman (1982) appearance is the exact same piece of clothing that we see the real Harvey Pekar wearing on the TV. See more »

Goofs

During the scene in Shay's restaurant, the level of the soda in Harvey Pekar's cup fluctuates between half full and completely full at least twice. See more »

Quotes

Toby Radloff: I'm not going to be eating dinner until very late and this has got to hold me over.
Harvey Pekar: Yeah? Whaddya got? A church function?
Toby Radloff: No. I'm driving to Toledo to see a movie. Wouldya like to come?
Harvey Pekar: No. Nah. I'm goin to Delaware tonight. I'm getting married.
Toby Radloff: Oh. Why Delaware?
Harvey Pekar: Well, you know, chick I'm marryin' is from Wilmington. Plus I gotta help her move her stuff back here. Why are you driving to Toledo to see a movie, Tob'?
Toby Radloff: It's not playing at the Mapletown. I didn't know you had a girlfriend Harvey.
Harvey Pekar: ...
See more »

Connections

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

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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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