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
Non comic book fans, or modern comic book fans, may be puzzled by the fact that the kid trick-or-treating as Green Lantern in the opening scene is wearing a red costume. This is actually accurate to the depicted era, the 1950s: the kid is dressed as the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who had a costume like that, before the concept got rebooted in 1959 into the more familiar green uniform version. See more »
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 »
You might want to try believing in something bigger than yourself. It might cheer you up.
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Brilliantly Made Film About A Very Dull Individual
There was a time when Hollywood made biopics about people of accomplishment, films commending excellence, whether Marie Curie or Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln, good films modeling behavior worthy of emulation; I suppose this film about a curmudgeonly, unkempt sad-sack is perfect for the age of A Divided Nation; Harney Pekar is famous for being himself, living in his own private bubble, as if that were in itself worthy of public deification.
That said, this is a brilliantly made film, with remarkable performances from Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, and the sincerity of the filmmakers cannot be doubted. It is an amazing blend of cartoon, both human and drawn, combined with actual vintage television footage, the real Pekar frequently juxtaposed against both his cartoon self and Giamattis remarkable recreation. After a few hours, however, I had to question if I really found this guy worthy of anything other than a clever ability to market his failings; its remarkably made, but do I want this dude in my living room for two hours?
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