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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:

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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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

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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jonathan Demme had tried to adapt a film version of "American Splendor" in the 1980s, but the project never came to fruition as Demme wasn't an established director. See more »

Goofs

The opening of the movie is set in 1975. During the opening credits, there is a scene that has CSX freight cars in the background. The CSX corporations was formed in 1980, five years later. See more »

Quotes

Real Toby: So, how do you cope with loneliness, Harvey?
Real Harvey: Uh, did I say I watch television?
Real Toby: Yeah. You mentioned you watch TV, you listen to your jazz records, you read, you write. You do your stick figures so you could plan for your next comic book.
Real Harvey: Yeah.
Real Toby: 'Cause I've seen many of your stick figures and that seems to be pretty interesting.
Real Harvey: Yeah.
Real Toby: [looks at a jellybean tray] Mmm, chocolate jelly beans. I'm going to have to try one.
See more »

Connections

References Nixon (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

My City Was Gone
(1982)
Written by Chrissie Hynde
Performed by The Pretenders
Courtesy of Warner Music U.K. Ltd.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating Wackos
15 November 2005 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

I guess I am sucker for biographies of weird people. This certainly qualifies for that.

What makes this film different from others is the combination of fictional and real people playing the two main characters: Harvey and Joyce Pekar. For most of the film, Paul Giamatti portrays Pekar - the main focus of the film, and Hope Davis plays his wife, Joyce. However, interspersed in the film are comments from the real Harvey and Joyce. Strange!!!

The only thing stranger that the film structure is the story of these actual people. You wouldn't think that two dull introverts like this could be made to look so interesting, but they are. What a testimony to the job the filmmakers did here....and the actors. Giamatti was amazing.

After seeing this movie, I was inspired to go out and obtain several of Harvey Pekar's comic books. Whew! I should have stuck with just the movie. The comics stink!! Don't waste your money.


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