7.5/10
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219 user 188 critic

American Splendor (2003)

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ON DISC
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 »

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Photos

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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
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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:

View content advisory »
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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 »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$159,705, 17 August 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,003,587, 30 November 2003
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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ted Hope: voice on answering machine from Late Show with David Letterman (1993). See more »

Goofs

When Harvey Pekar forgets his keys and cannot get into the apartment, the elderly woman opens the door for him. When he closes the door behind him, it bounces off the frame and doesn't latch shut. See more »

Quotes

Real Harvey: [introducing on-screen character] Here's our man. Yeah, all right. Here's me. Well, the guy playin' me anyway. Even though he don't look nothin' like me. But, whatever.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 2004 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards (2004) 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 »

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User Reviews

Something different.
14 February 2004 | by Danny_G13See 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.


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