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 Clevelands 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. First published in 1976, the comic earns Harvey cult fame throughout the 1980s and eventually leads him to the sardonic Joyce Barber, a partner in a Delaware comic book store who end ups being Harveys true soul mate as they experience the bizarre byproducts of Harveys cult celebrity stature.
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We have taken some photos of "American Splendor". They represent actual movie quality.
This was the winner of the 2003 Jury Award for Sundance, and it's easy tosee why. It was an unusually made film ...sort of a blend between DramaandDocumentary. IT's a biography of Harvey Pekar, the undergroundcartoonist/file clerk who appeared on David Letterman back in the 80s.Despite the real Harvey's protestations that "there's no happy ending ornothing", this was quite a nice story celebrating the human spirit. Ilovedthe way the filmmaker inserted clips of the real Harvey, his wife, andothercharacters into the film so that we can compare the two. My words cannotdoit justice. This is a film that needs to be seen to beappreciated.
Look frankly I wasn't expecting much from this film. Some Sundance "i'm soinnovative" piece of celluliod about some guy I had never heard of. Whocares - right?Well actually this is one of the best films I have seen this year. AmericanSplendor does what Seinfeld promised but never delivered. It makes a scriptabout nothing and that nothing is Harvey Pekhar.Not that he is nothing in the definitive sense. There is in fact a realHarvey Pekhar and he is actually a very interesting and fascinating man, Iknow this cause I get to actuallly see him in this film, as well as someonetrying to be him. But he conveys nothing in the filmic sense. This is not afilm about heroes or the famed artist biographer. Harvey is just like us,and his fame is based upon not being bigger than life, but making real lifeinto art.The innovation of this film is fantastic on a script level. Unlike thebigger glossier films this one has not forgotten story and character whendelving into the realms of CGI and art direction.In fact here the film makers have made the reality of the film come to lifein a way that most other films can only envy.Go and see this film, it's a unique experience - at least until a whole lotof emerging film makers try to copy it.
i went on a small budget independent movie spree through realflix...just to see what's out there and came across this little gem. paulgiamatti is excellent as the title character-- a gruff, sad-sack littleman working a dead-end job but who has "delusions of grandeur" to be afamous comic-book artist. when he can't think of a good comic book, heends up doing a series on his own life-- which leads him to fame, ifnot fortune.supporting giamatti is an excellent cast-- and you'll find thefilmmaker's technique of dove-tailing the real world characters thefictionalized characters are based on, with their ficitonal moviecounterparts-- interesting and effective.if you like performance... this is a movie you'll want to see.
Quirky, idiosyncratic man. I enjoyed it. Avid Record Collecting, Author, retired file clerk, and existential philosopher Harvey Pekar is an enigma. This film delves into the trials and minutiae of everyday living. Really, I enjoyed it. We all have a little Pekar in us at times. A worthwhile purchase
The best part of "American Splendor" is the combination of the actors, real life people, and cartoons that bring together life of Harvey Pekar. The director uses imaginative techniques to bring these three elements together, and it is done seamlessly. For the directors stlye, this film is a must-see, but as for the story itself, there is not much here. This is the story of a man whose life was turned into an underground comic book called "American Splendor", but the problem is that there is not much to his life. The comic is based on his casual observations of life, but it is hard to swallow after a while, since Pekar is such a dissafected, cynical man, who cannot muster up the courage to look at the bright side of things every once in a while. Perhaps it is this very characteristic that people find so endearing about him, but I found it to be too cartoonish or deliberate for me to completely believe that this is how he really is. The acting in this film is top notch, and since every actor is playing a real person, it is easy to compare how they have done, since all the real people also appear in this film. There is nothing in "American Splendor" that will blow you away, because even the basis for Pekar's fame seems unclear. Having never read his comics, I do not know what these complex observations of seemingly simple things in life are, so therefore I do not fully comprehend his character, since the film assumes too many things about the viewer in the telling of this story, that such things are left out, perhaps on purpose. All in all, this in an inventive, decent movie, that could have easily earned more stars had I known more about Pekar's life before I watched the movie.
This movie is wonderful. It manages to be both stylistically daring and genuinely touching. Harvey Pekar is such a fantastic protagonist because he's so heartbreakingly ordinary. Lonely, overwhelmed, unlucky in love and stuck in a dead-end job, Harvey decides to turn his humdrum life into a comic book, and ends up becoming a cultural icon that ordinary people everywhere can relate to. His romance and marriage to Joyce is one of the most touching and heartwarming screen romances I've seen in a long time. And when Harvey inadvertently becomes a television celebrity by becoming a regular on the David Letterman Show, he quickly finds himself disgusted by the whole charade and sabotages it (the scene with Pekar having a disturbing on-air argument with Letterman is one of the most intense scenes in the film). The film brilliantly combines the fictionalized story of Harvey, portrayed by actors, with real footage of the people being portrayed, as well as animation inspired by the comic book. In the process, the ordinary people portrayed become fascinating, hilarious and endearing.
I don't know what to say about this movie that hasn't already been said.There are already some many reviews all over the place that if you don'talready the plot, you can read about it somewhere else because I'm not goingto do here. Paul Giamatti is a great actor and it's great to see him instarring roles unlike all the supporting roles he had before. I just hope hehas more starring roles in movies like this because he's a much better actorthan guys like Ben Affleck. Hope Davis is also really great in this movieand it's also great to see the real life Harvey Pekar and his wife in thismovie and his doing the narration. The last scene is also great in which youget to see all the characters in real life.
Sadly, i was disappointed with this movie. After hearing great thingsabout it i rented it. Although Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis are utterlygreat in the movie, the movie's structure (especially when it flipsback from Giamatti to the real Harvey Pekar) is flawed and whollymessy. Tobey the nerd is portrayed as a total retard which i suspectisn't the way the directors wanted him to be portrayed but wind upusing him for much-needed laughs. And fail. I did like the fact thatthese were real people and found it intriguing but not enough to saythat i really enjoyed it. It has its moments but what do you know? Itwas just a movie after all. 6/10
I'd seen Paul Giamatti around before, mostly in stinkers like "Big Fat Liar", he never gets the roles or attention he deserves. And I'll admit was NEVER impressed with him anyways, but the reason I got this movie, mostly, was because I heard he gave such a great performance.... And well, they were right!!! This movie is about the life of Harvey Pekar, as based on his comic series "American Splendor" which was based from his life. It includes interviews with the real Harvey Pekar and other people that are portrayed in the film as well, like his wife and co-workers. I find it interesting how such an ordinary guy cannot only have not only a sucessful comic book series, but this movie as well. Which is pretty impressive for anybody :D. It was fun to watch Paul Giamatti, I mean he really had Harvey down to-a-T. He not only gets his mannerism and voice, but his emotions as well. He portrays him as a person and not just a character. :D Hope Davis was wonderful as usual, and so was everyone else in this movie. I say, anyone who think their life sucks should watch this. And, hey, anyone who likes to watch good movies with good acting too. :D The acting really elevates this film. Wonderful. God Bless & *enjoy* ~Amy
I got suckered into renting this film after reading the critical acclaim it received: won Sundance, received 5 independent spirit awards, on 200 critics' top ten lists. After watching this yesterday, I have no idea why any such praise was bestowed on this film, which is mediocre at best.The film is virtually plotless, jumping around to high and low points of Pekar's life, none of which I found particularly interesting or compelling. The film, like Pekar's comics, focuses on the mundane, the everyday life of everyday people. That's the underlying point of the film and I know that, but it didn't make either my wife or me enjoy the film. Equally irritating was the insertion of autobiographical commentary by the actual participants. Again, I realize that this is an intentional device used by the filmmakers as part of the blurring of the line between the fictionalized reality Pekar wrote about and the reality he lived. Unfortunately, none of it made me care a whit for these sad, hopeless characters living in squalorous circumstances largely of their own construction.The only compliment I can bestow upon the film is that it was generally well cast. Paul Giamatti makes a good Pekar, Hope Davis is a dead ringer for a younger version of Pekar's wife, and the actor portraying Pekar's nerdy friend is almost indistinguishable from the real Toby Radloff. In fact, this character, and to a certain extent, Hope Davis' "planning to be ill" hypochondriac are the only two characters that are of any interest in the film, and even their quirkiness quickly becomes tiresome.Some people will say that I missed the point of the film in this review. I would respond that I saw the message that the filmmakers were trying to convey, but frankly, I just didn't care. If I want mundane details of life, I will look at the lives of the people around me, not to a supposedly "great" film. In short, I was very disappointed.
HERE IS THE SHORTEST REVIEW IN HISTORY:1) HONEST;2) REAL;3) INSPIRATIONAL3) HOPEFUL....JUST GET THE MOVIE - RENT IT, BUY IT, SEE IT.NOLASUSAN
Harvey Pekar is a man of marginal talent who, through sheer bloody single mindedness aka persistent egomania, has made something of a name for himself. Working with his significantly more talented friend R. Crumb, Pekar has put out a number of "underground" comic books about his mundane life as a working stiff. One of the more unusual features of this unusual movie about an unusual man has Pekar writing for his comic book commenting on Paul Giamatti's performance as Pekar. This movie is quite unpredictable and as such is quite unlike anything that you have ever seen before.
This is the movie biography of the cartoonist Harvey Pekar who literally turned suffering into in art form. Pekar is a lovable curmudgeon who always seems to see impending doom on the horizon and a cloud in every silver lining yet we cannot help but find Harvey Pekar to be a really lovable guy. He lives in an apartment in Cleveland that he never seems to clean with his prized collection of Jazz records. Pekar's cartoons have had a cult following for a while and take the form of autobiography, an autobiography of a common man, an "everyman", and the annoyances of everyday modern life which he encounters. The comics are done in somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek, insightful and some times a sarcastic style of humor that elevates the boredom and misery of life to an almost mystical perspective. The film takes us from his youth, his friendship with R. Crumb, his love of old Jazz, the relationship with his wife, his day job as a filing clerk at the local hospital VA and the nuts and bolts of his work as an underground cartoonist where Harvey where we see him writing the dialogue and drawing stick figures that are later elaborated on by various artists (including Crumb). Also followed in this movie is his sudden success when he is "discovered" , his bout with cancer and the adoption of their daughter. It gives a character sketch of someone to whom life has not exactly been kind but we also get the feeling that Pekar has done a good job sabotaging himself all along the way. You might actually find yourself asking yourself why Pekar sabotages himself as he does and the answer, if this is a true portrayal of the man, might be because he suffers from too much integrity. The movie is done in a very creative style with Paul Giamatti playing Pekar through out the movie with Pekar himself showing up in and out of the movie in interviews on the set and film clips of his appearances on the Leterman show as well as some animation and of course close ups of some of the cells of Harvey's comics. The casting of Giamatti was perfect and the actor pulls off the portrayal of Pekar supurbly and with ease. The portrayal of the blossoming relationship with his wife is particularly touching and is quite sentimental for a guy who seems to take pride in being anything but sentimental. Pekar finally being recognized as a social critic and artist of merit is taken as a mixed blessing by Harvey in true Pekar fashion and yet Harvey is seen as being pulled dragging and kicking through the hype. Whether or not this indeed a true portrayal of the man the Harvey Pekar of this movie come across as being a many of integrity. His struggle with cancer is told with honesty and in it we see our anti-hero as someone who is quite heroic. A very entertaining movie about a real character. Included with the DVD is a mini-comic book which I found quite delightful.Jim Connell "Hallstatt Prince"
I loved this movie, plain and simple. I was fortunate enough to see it onits opening night at Sundance and was set up to hate it (worked in themorning, long flight, went immediately to the theater, hot, crowded, fullhouse, not enough seats...); i was even verbally abusive towards theushers!After FINALLY getting a seat, I sat down, and was completely won over.This story, like its byline, shows that anyone's life, no matter howordinary we may think it, is far from it. The story kept me interested,and Paul Giamatti's acting was Oscar-worthy. Hope Davis and JudahFriedlander were also excellent. I tend not to believe all the hype aboutmovies--especially Indies--but this one really earned its solid goodreviews. It was brilliantly written, directed, and acted. A realwinner.
After reading comments and checking the ratings for this movie I decidedtogive it a shot.I can say that i have never been so disappointed in a movie, it's a veryslow movie that never really takes off and honestly I don't get why it'sregarded to be a comedy.I could just as well just start following any guy on the street andprobablysee more interesting things.
Remarkably good, thoroughly uplifting. Even a VA hospital file clerk inCleveland can be an artist of stature and inspiration. This is an anthem toanyone who wants to do more than sit aimlessly on their ass. Harvey Pekarshows than anyone can be an artist, if you would just "live your life, dealwith it, and try to understand" -- and do something aboutit.
Every review was awesome, my wife wanted to see it, and my film buff son at college told me it was a MUST SEE. As I am leaving with my wife, my best friend calls me and tells me it was one of the worst movies he had ever seen and he and his daughter should have walked out. Of course, my best friend and i don't alway agree on movies, so i went anyway.For 15-20 minutes I was like... Get Me Out of Here. And then when R. Crumb showed up, the story for me picked up, and up, and up, and up, and then i was hooked. It was truly brilliant as they shuffled from scene to scene, from Harvey to Harvey and I watched this story of a regular slob unfold. Harvey and his wife are compelling characters and when the movie ended I was so glad i had hung in there. Should it win the Oscar for Best Picture? No. Should it be nominated based on the movies I have seen this year (i have seen alot)? Yes. Suffice to say, this is groundbreaking stuff that if you give it a chance, and dont go, as that poor schlub in another review did, on a date looking for a light hearted comedy. If you are looking for a real movie, with real heart and grit, and something unlike anything you have ever seen... different in a way that Memento or Adataptation was, then run to the theaters to see American Splendor. A really wonderful movie.
This review is from: American Splendor (DVD) I didn't quite know what to expect when I heard that this film was a mixture of narrative, documentary and animated footage about an overweight depressive underground comic book writer. But it's not nearly as strange or sad I expected, it's actually quite funny and surprisingly straight-forward. I'd never heard of American Splendor before, but after watching the movie the first thing I did was rush out to buy the book. Paul Giametti and Hope Davis are both excellent and the real life Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner are also wonderful to watch. This movie turned out to be one of the best movies I've seen this year. This movie is a combination of a docudrama and a black comedy. Wickedly funny and very different. While other docudramas try to blend the actors and the real-life footage seemlessly, that's not done here. You totally accept the actor playing Harvey, the real Harvey, all the different cartoon Harvey's and the actor playing the actor Harvey, as being Harvey Pekar. In one scene, the real Harvey narates as the actor Harvey goes to see a play about his life, in which another actor plays the actor Harvey. Whew! And the real Harvey narrates about how weird it is to be watching the "movie" of this scene. In another scene, you can't believe Harvey and Toby are as weird as they seem, until the actors walk out of the movie onto the set, and you see the real Harvey and Toby interacting, and the actors are watching them. And then you realize that not only did the actors really "nail them" but the real guys are perhaps even weirder than they are portrayed. Joyce and Harvey's "date" is hysterical. All the scenes in the movie are framed like frames from the comic book. Very creative. And in the end, it all comes full circle, when Harvey writes a comic book about making the movie. It has been a long time since I have seen such a smart, engaging, moving, spryly written, wryly funny movie. You absolutely do not need to be aware of his work before seeing the movie, though if you are a fan, I am sure it would be all the more enjoyable. A great story and a great film!
This review is from: American Splendor (DVD) If you're unsure about buying this, it's worth checking out just to see the characters. The crazy thing is that they're essentially real people. Go to wikipedia and look up Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb, Toby Radloff, and Joyce Brabner. It's a pleasant surprise that they exist. See the movie. (It was in great condition when I got it, too.)
The story of Harvey Pekar, a Cleveland file clerk who writes a comic book onhis spare time about his real life. Giamatti purposely played a jerk, he wasnot supposed to be likeable, and Giamatti played a jerk well, his best roleto date and I'm happy to see him in a lead role. The story of this man'slife was more compelling than it should have been, the mixing of comics withreal life was nice but the ending was rather tacky, in fact I never quitegripped the real Pekar and his reoccurence throughout the movie. The ideawas brilliant and I hope the Berman-Pulcini comes back. The movie just had alittle oddness to it and the uniqueness of it made it worth while. A notablefilm effort and Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis are great-8/10