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American Splendor
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American Splendor (2003) More at IMDbPro »

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

Overview

User Rating:
7.6/10   37,550 votes »
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Up 18% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Harvey Pekar (comic book series American Splendor) and
Joyce Brabner (comic book series Our Cancer Year) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for American Splendor on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 September 2003 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.
Plot:
An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 32 wins & 34 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A poor story told splendidly. See more (223 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Chris Ambrose ... Superman
Joey Krajcar ... Batman

Josh Hutcherson ... Robin
Cameron Carter ... Green Lantern

Daniel Tay ... Young Harvey

Mary Faktor ... Housewife

Paul Giamatti ... Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar ... Real Harvey

Shari Springer Berman ... Interviewer (voice)

Larry John Meyers ... Throat Doctor (as Larry John Myers)
Vivienne Benesch ... Lana

Barbara Brown ... Nurse

Earl Billings ... Mr. Boats

Danny Hoch ... Marty

James Urbaniak ... Robert Crumb
Eli Ganias ... Pahls

Sylvia Kauders ... Old Jewish Lady
Rebecca Borger ... Cashier
Nick Baxter ... Mattress Guy #1
Allen Branstein ... Mattress Guy #2
Dick Prochaska ... WW II Patient
Charles Eduardos ... Doctor

Judah Friedlander ... Toby Radloff

Robert Pulcini ... Bob The Director
Toby Radloff ... Real Toby

Bianca Santos ... Counter Girl
Maggie Moore ... Alice Quinn

Hope Davis ... Joyce Brabner

Mike Rad ... Rand

Amy K. Harmon ... Cheery Waitress
Joyce Brabner ... Real Joyce

Donal Logue ... Stage Actor Harvey

Molly Shannon ... Stage Actor Joyce
Eytan Mirsky ... Guitarist
Rob Grader ... Stage Manager
Terrence Sullivan ... Letterman Regular

Ebon Moss-Bachrach ... MTV Director

Patrick Lafferty ... Yuppie

Jesse Perez ... Miguel

Jeff Peters ... Talk Show Host
Ola Creston ... PA #1
Robert J. Williams ... Cancer Doctor

James McCaffrey ... Fred

Madylin Sweeten ... Danielle
Danielle Batone ... Real Danielle
Jason Stevens ... Letterman Regular Voice (voice)
Todd Cummings ... Talk Show Host Voice (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Rae Sunshine Lee ... Cashier (uncredited)
Marcus Wynnycky ... Comic Book Fan (uncredited)
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Directed by
Shari Springer Berman 
Robert Pulcini 
 
Writing credits
(WGA)
Harvey Pekar  comic book series American Splendor and
Joyce Brabner  comic book series Our Cancer Year

Shari Springer Berman (written by) &
Robert Pulcini (written by)

Produced by
Declan Baldwin .... line producer: New York
Ted Hope .... producer
Julia King .... associate producer
Christine K. Walker .... line producer (as Christine Kunewa Walker)
 
Original Music by
Mark Suozzo 
 
Cinematography by
Terry Stacey (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Robert Pulcini 
 
Casting by
Ann Goulder 
 
Production Design by
Thérèse DePrez  (as Thérèse Deprez)
 
Set Decoration by
Robert DeSue  (as Robert Desue)
 
Costume Design by
Michael Wilkinson 
 
Makeup Department
Luisa Abel .... makeup department head
Deanna .... hair department head (as R. Deanna)
Deborah Lilly .... hair swing (as Deborah R. Lilly)
Deborah Lilly .... makeup swing (as Deborah R. Lilly)
Kathy Madison .... additional hair
Kathy Madison .... additional makeup
 
Production Management
Janet Fries Eckholm .... post-production supervisor: Los Angeles (as Janet Eckholm)
Chip Signore .... unit production manager: New York
Andy Wheeler .... production supervisor
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eric Richard Lasko .... second second assistant director (as Eric Lasko)
Matt G. Sheets .... additional second assistant director
Chip Signore .... first assistant director
Meryl Stavitz .... second assistant director
 
Art Department
Doug Allen .... original artwork
Greg Budgett .... original artwork
John Alan Champion .... swing gang (as John Champion)
Robert Crumb .... original artwork (as R. Crumb)
Gary Dumm .... original artwork
Jack Gardener .... swing gang (as Jack Gardner)
Jason Gerstein .... original artwork
Mindy Harris .... property master
Dean Haspiel .... original artwork
Matt Hausmann .... art department intern
Todd Heckeler .... art department intern
Kenneth J. Kellers .... leadman (as Kenneth Kellers)
Lynn Kramer .... props assistant
Donald Leigl .... swing gang (as Donald J. Liegl)
Dustin Lucien .... art department intern
Dean Macur .... props assistant
Shaina Malkin .... art department intern
Deborah Marsh .... art department coordinator
David W. Mooney .... swing gang
Beth O'Brien .... art department intern
Mike O'Neill .... art department intern
Erika Rice .... swing gang
Joe Sacco .... original artwork
Gerry Shamray .... original artwork
Frank Stack .... original artwork
Tema L. Staig .... assistant to production designer (as Tema Levine)
Diana Stoughton .... on-set dresser
Matthew T. .... art department production assistant
James E. Todd .... swing gang
Joe Zabel .... original artwork
Mark Zingarelli .... original artwork: "Our Movie Year"
 
Sound Department
Ron Bochar .... re-recording mixer
Mick Davies .... boom operator (as Michael B. Davies)
Chris Fielder .... transfer assistant
Albert Gasser .... dialogue editor
Ruth Hernandez .... first sound assistant
George A. Lara .... foley supervisor
Whit Norris .... sound mixer
Jay Peck .... foley artist
Anne Pope .... dialogue editor
Nicholas Renbeck .... supervising sound editor
Jeffrey Stern .... adr editor (as Jeff Stern)
Allan Zaleski .... sound effects editor
Alexa Zimmerman .... first sound assistant
Rick Ash .... sound re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Jamie Baker .... adr recordist (uncredited)
Glen Marullo .... sound mixer (uncredited)
Unsun Song .... sound recordist (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
John Kuramoto .... animator: Twinkle
John Kuramoto .... compositor: Twinkle
Gary Leib .... animator: Twinkle
Gary Leib .... designer: Twinkle
Patrick Clancey .... digital opticals (uncredited)
John R. Ellis .... digital cleanup artist (uncredited)
Steven J. Scott .... digital intermediate colorist: EFilm (uncredited)
Michael J. Williams .... digital opticals: Heavy Light Digital (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Ian Axilrod .... camera loader
Ian Carmody .... camera intern
Ian Carmody .... stills photographer: credit sequence stills
Oliver Cary .... first assistant camera
Joe Cassano .... dolly grip
John Clifford .... stills photographer
Chuck Cocita .... additional electric
Kiely Cronin .... camera operator: "b" camera (as W. Kiely Cronin)
Kiely Cronin .... second assistant camera (as W. Kiely Cronin)
Steve Drellich .... camera operator
Alex Esber .... camera operator: "b" camera
Alex Esber .... second assistant camera
Dan Jarrell .... key grip
Matthew Jennings .... best boy grip (as Matthew E. Jennings)
Julie 'Doc' Lindstrom .... company electric (as Julie Ann 'Doc' Lindstrom)
Alex Mangen .... camera loader
Joseph L. McDermott .... additional grip
George McDougal .... additional electric (as George McDougall)
Frank McKeon .... additional electric
Pat Meehan .... 24 frame playback
Jonathan Meyer .... additional grip
Keith Nickoson .... company grip
Lester Parker .... company electric
Steve Ramsey .... gaffer (as Steven Ramsey)
Christy Taddeo .... additional electric
Michael F. Taylor .... additional grip
John Turk .... additional electric
Adam N. White .... additional grip (as Adam White)
Russ Wulf .... best boy electric (as Russell O. Wulff)
Jack Yager .... company grip
Ron Zabarsky .... additional electrician (as Ronald Zabarsky)
Rebecca Venezia .... assistant camera: New York (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Elizabeth Baird .... principals casting assistant (as Liz Baird)
Sarah Katherine Christie .... casting assistant
Kendall Embrescia .... extras casting assistant
Marcy Ronen .... extras casting: Cleveland
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Kim Andrews .... costume assistant (as Kimberly Andrews)
Robin Fields .... key costumer (as Robin K. Fields)
Murshel Lewis .... costume supervisor (as Murshel C. Lewis)
Sarah Silver .... wardrobe intern
Adrienne Brown .... wardrobe production assistant (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Alfredo Frasson .... color timer
Mitchell Gutman .... post-production intern
Linus Hume .... post-production coordinator
Julia King .... post-production supervisor
Catherine Rankin .... negative cutter
Tim Streeto .... additional editor
Mila Patriki .... colorist: dailies (uncredited)
Andrew Seklir .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Sanford Allen .... featured musician: violin solo/concertmaster
John Beal .... featured musician: bass
Linda Cohen .... music supervisor
Dave Douglas .... featured musician: trumpet
Butch Jones .... additional music recordist: Back Pocket Recording Studios
Evyen Klean .... music consultant
Bob Malach .... featured musician: tenor sax
Josh Rosenblum .... additional conductor
Derek Smith .... featured musician: piano, organ, celeste
Ted Spencer .... music recordist-mixer
Dale Stuckenbruck .... featured musician: musical saw
Mark Suozzo .... conductor
Mark Suozzo .... music producer
Mark Suozzo .... orchestrator
Ronnie Zito .... featured musician: drums
Jamie Baker .... music recordist (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Wayne Conway .... transportation captain
Cheryl Dennis .... driver
Tom McCue .... transportation coordinator (as Thomas Titus McCue)
Russ A. Minerd .... driver
Larry Spencer .... additional driver
Roman Wlaszyn .... picture car wrangler (as Roman A. Wlaszyn)
Andy Bethke .... driver (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Jeremy Bailey .... assistant location manager
William Ball .... additional craft assistant
Andy Bethke .... set production assistant
Chad Bronson .... set production assistant
Brian Cantaldi .... bookkeeper
Alison Cohen .... production counsel: Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine, Hurwitz & Weinstein
Paula Collins .... craft service assistant
Joe Cortese .... location production assistant
Rob Fegen .... production administrative supervisor (as Robert Fegen)
Janell Fletcher .... facility manager: Avid
Jennifer Zolten Freed .... post-production accountant (as Jennifer Freed)
Jason Gerstein .... office production assistant
Elisabeth Giglio .... office manager: C 5
Lamia Guellati .... assistant: Ted Hope
Jason Cooper Hall .... assistant: Christine Walker
Virginia M. Herdman .... craft service
Derrick Kardos .... clearance assistant
Billy Lalor .... clearance assistant
Robert Langhorst .... assistant chef: Premiere Caterers
David Lemoyne .... additional set production assistant (as David Lemoyne Jones)
Sara Lieberth .... craft service
Eric Muss-Barnes .... production assistant: cast
Jen O'Neal .... additional production secretary
Chris Petro II .... production assistant: cast
Ryan Polack .... set production assistant
Amanda L. Preputnik .... additional set production assistant
Michael Rochford .... location manager (as Michael M. Rochford)
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh .... set production assistant
Michael Santeramo .... chef: Premiere Caterers
Michael Taylor .... script supervisor
Melinka Thompson-Godoy .... production executive: Good Machine
Lesley Ward .... production secretary (as Lesley Ward-Zickefoose)
Becky Woodward .... additional location production assistant
Devon Zeigler .... set production assistant
Brian Dickson .... production assistant (uncredited)
Jason Cooper Hall .... assistant to cast (uncredited)
Kelly Lofstrom .... contract administrator (uncredited)
Charles Moore .... production assistant (uncredited)
Rebecca Thornell .... clearance (uncredited)
Daniel Villagomez .... credits administrator (uncredited)
Andy Wheeler .... production accountant (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Norman Barr .... special thanks: The Detroit Theatre
Jude Brennan .... special thanks
Paul Brennan .... special thanks (as Paul Brennan Esq.)
Bernt Amadeus Capra .... the producers would like to thank (as Bernt Capra)
Chris Carmody .... special thanks
Debra Greico .... special thanks
Wayne Alan Harold .... special thanks (as Wayne Harold)
Robert Katz .... special thanks
Walt Kelly .... acknowledgment: the filmmakers acknowledge the creative work of
Anne Kuenzel .... special thanks: Lakewood Hospital
Matt Loeb .... special thanks
Lewis Payton .... special thanks
Carla Raij .... special thanks
Alicia Sams .... special thanks
Adam Shulman .... special thanks
Mary Jane Skalski .... special thanks
Pam Smith .... special thanks
Jim Stark .... the producers would like to thank
Vince Waldron .... the producers would like to thank
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
MPAA:
Rated R for language
Runtime:
101 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Brazil:14 | Canada:PG | Chile:TE | Germany:6 | Iceland:LH | Mexico:B | Netherlands:AL | Norway:A | Peru:PT | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG | Sweden:Btl | Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) | UK:15 | USA:TV-MA (TV rating) | USA:TV-14 (cable rating) | USA:R (certificate #39761)
Filming Locations:

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:
Anachronisms: 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:
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:Yeah, yeah. We met last week.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Features "MTV News" (1981)See more »
Soundtrack:
Ain't That PeculiarSee more »

FAQ

How does it end?
See more »
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
A poor story told splendidly., 14 March 2004
Author: P Carr (pavel@fan.com) from Topeka, KS

"American Splendor" tells the story of a semi-curmudgeonly middle-aged man (Paul Giamatti) who has turned his blase life into fodder for a successful comic book. That subject matter is not excessively interesting, but the what of the film isn't as important or enjoyable as the how. This is a classic cinematic example of style over substance, as there may not have been a more creative film released in 2003.

The film is based upon the comic book "American Splendor," which apparently gained a cult following in the '70s and '80s. The comic book and the movie trace the life of Harvey Pekar, who is also the author of the comics. He is a curmudgeonly thirty-something who lives a mundane existence, working as an file clerk at a hospital while buying and selling jazz LPs on the side.

This is the rare film in which the technical aspects drive the film more than the story does. Most movies aim to pull you along with the suspense of what's going to happen next in the plot. On top of the extremely apt jazz music that drenches the movie, "American Splendor" keeps your attention because you wonder what creative editing is going to happen next. Two aspects of the editing uniquely stand out, the breaking down of the imaginary third wall and the mixture of animation and live-action.

First, the filmmakers break down the cinematic third wall by mixing actual archival footage and faux behind-the-scenes documentary-style clips with the narrative. In layman's terms, scenes featuring the actors are interspersed with scenes of the actual people the actors are portraying. For example, immediately following a sequence with Paul Giamatti as Pekar, the film cuts to the set where the scene was shot. There, the real Pekar rambles on about the just-filmed scene, while everyone else goes about their movie business. Other quirks include the use of real excerpts from "Late Night with David Letterman" and then later creating fictional episodes as well.

The other creative technique that pops up throughout the film is the interaction of live action and animation. Not in the usual cinematic manner like "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", but in more of a comic book style. The very two-dimensional cartoons appear in parts such as the classic devil-and-angel-on-the-shoulder scene when Pekar faces a decision. All of this wildly singular design work merges to drive the movie forward. Usually the "What will happen next?" factor in the plot pushes the film, but in "American Splendor," not knowing what will happen next from an editing standpoint is the primary reason to keep watching.

In fact, it's about the only reason to keep watching. While the film is splendidly made, the characters still must draw interest for it to succeed, and on that front, "American Splendor" falls flat. Pekar and company are quirky, which is not necessarily bad, but in a weird and dark manner, not in a good humourous way. None of their qualities are noble or redeeming, a la "Return of the King". They're not even endearing, along the lines of an unusual film like "Punch-Drunk Love". This lack of high qualities makes the characters difficult to invest in emotionally. There aren't even any stock characters, the kind whose story arc you can pinpoint from the minute they appear on the screen. Some will no doubt love this uniqueness, but while I praise the filmmakers for crafting original characters, the lack of any rooting interest in or familiarity with the characters prevented me from connecting personally at all.

I should point out that the absence of involving characters has nothing to do with the acting itself. Giamatti ("Planet of the Apes", "Big Fat Liar"), the most recognizable face, is stellar as the grumpy Pekar, embodying him so perfectly that Pekar himself comes across as just a poor imitation. The rest of the cast fills in well, but also is limited by the written characters, which consistently come across as two-dimensional caricatures, rather than the actual people they are representing. For example, Hope Davis plays Pekar's love interest, and while she nails the look and mannerisms, her character often seems to be making decisions for no apparent reason. That's an attribute that is embedded in the entire film, but at little fault of the cast.

The overall vibe reminds me of "The Good Girl". The film is generally well done, with decent to quite good acting. But there is no rooting interest, and the story is void of noble qualities. American Splendor varies from all other films on the creative side though, and that freshness and uniqueness causes me to highly recommend this film to people who are interested in and intrigued by filmmaking and the cinematic process.

Bottom Line: Good for film students, but if you're a typical movie-goer, looking for an entertaining evening, I'd point you elsewhere. 6/10, almost entirely for technical merit.

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