7.4/10
46,021
227 user 192 critic

American Splendor (2003)

Trailer
2:20 | Trailer
An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.

Writers:

Harvey Pekar (comic book series American Splendor), Joyce Brabner (comic book series Our Cancer Year) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 31 wins & 49 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crumb (1994)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An intimate portrait of controversial cartoonist Robert Crumb and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Charles Crumb
Sideways (2004)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    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
Ghost World (2001)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 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
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    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
About Schmidt (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A man upon retirement, embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 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 7.6/10 X  

When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.

Director: Tom McCarthy
Stars: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale
Win Win (2011)
Comedy | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 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
The Savages (2007)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A sister and brother face the realities of familial responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father.

Director: Tamara Jenkins
Stars: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco
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
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An awkward 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
Hero Tomorrow (2007)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

David, a struggling comic book creator from Cleveland, spends his days cutting grass and his nights smoking it while desperately trying to keep his superhero fantasies alive. When Robyn, ... See full summary »

Director: Ted Sikora
Stars: Perren Hedderson, Jocelyn Wrzosek, Bryan Jalovec
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Ambrose Chris Ambrose ... Superman
Joey Krajcar Joey Krajcar ... Batman
Josh Hutcherson ... Robin
Cameron Carter 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 Larry John Meyers ... Throat Doctor (as Larry John Myers)
Vivienne Benesch Vivienne Benesch ... Lana
Barbara Brown ... Nurse
Earl Billings ... Mr. Boats
Danny Hoch ... Marty
James Urbaniak ... Robert Crumb
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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Esplendor americano See more »

Filming Locations:

Cleveland, Ohio, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$159,705, 17 August 2003

Gross USA:

$6,010,990

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,986,084
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Gary Dumm: longtime American Splendor artist is the gray-haired man getting his copy of "Our Cancer Year" autographed. See more »

Goofs

The sign outside the hospital where Harvey works refers to the "Department of Veterans Affairs". The "Veterans Administration" did not become the Department of Veterans Affairs until 1989. See more »

Quotes

Harvey Pekar: So, how long you staying in Cleveland, man?
See more »

Connections

Features The David Letterman Show (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

My Favorite Things
(1959)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by John Coltrane
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Biography of the first "Reality Comic Book" author.
24 April 2004 | by gilliesSee all my reviews

There is not a movie with better acting that was made in 2003. This is what kept my wife and I glued to the television until well past midnight, when we should have been asleep.

This film is a biography of the real-life comic book writer (not illustrator) Harvey Pekar. Harvey is from Cleveland and early on befriends a man who eventually "strikes it big" in the comic book illustration business. After more than 10 years in a go-nowhere career as a hospital file clerk, Harvey decides that he will do the same, and finds that while he cannot draw, he can at least write stories about his life and observations that his friend can Illustrate quite amazingly and which together are published as the comic, "American Splendor."

Harvey is really a manic depressive person with a sardonic wit and a really banal life. On the other hand, his comics must be pretty great because he is a guest on the David Letterman show at least 3 times and actual footage from these appearances is included in the movie.

In many ways this is like a classic movie from Mainland China (e.g. "Xiu-Xiu, the sent-down girl", "raise the red lantern", etc.), although this movie is true. My wife, from Hong Kong, says that most Chinese movies follow a very elementary plot line :

Do you think your life Sucks? It could SUCK THIS MUCH !!!

And people watching a standard Chinese Movie are supposed to leave the theater uplifted because their lives do not suck as much as the lives they have just seen on the moviescreen.

I can say that this is probably the same type of movie, and this is the redeeming part of the Comic Cook, although I've never seen it. However, the movie was written with a great deal of creativity and there are also several humorous moments, and there are also several animations from Harvey's comics that take up acting space in the movie, which makes the movie absolutely positively something you've never seen before, and its worth seeing because although the overall story is rather depressing, the writing and acting and visual graphics are rather brilliant in this fine film. Furthermore, the courtship between Harvey and his wife is pretty interesting, and the way in which they are able to resolve their differences over having children is truly surprising.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 227 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed