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American Splendor (2003)

Cast: Paul Giamatti, , Hope Davis, , Judah Friedlander, , James Urbaniak, , Danny Hoch, , Daniel Tay, , Robert Pulcini, , Maggie Moore, , Donal Logue, , Molly Shannon, , James McCaffrey, , Madylin Sweeten, , Harvey Pekar, , Joyce Brabner, , Toby Radloff, , David Letterman, , Danielle Batone

Director(s): Shari Springer Berman , Robert Pulcini

Language: English

Genre: Social Drama

Synopsis

Meet Harvey Pekar, bona fide American original.

Cleveland native, V.A. hospital file clerk, and hilariously grumpy observer of life?s strange and unpredictable pageant. A comic book writer who writes about his everyday life as an omnivorous reader, jazz lover, obsessive-compulsive collector, and lousy housekeeper. A prickly poet of the mundane who knows that all the strategizing in the world can't save a guy from choosing the wrong supermarket checkout line. Before camcorders, before We... [Get complete synopsis]

 

motleymitch wrote on June 2, 2006, 12:35 pm
Rated
Awesome, awesome bio-pic of a true underground American legend, Harvey Pekar. I first became aware of him when he would often appear on Letterman and be a big grump while Letterman taunted him. It was unintentionally funny (from Pekar's P.O.V.), until he actually had to be ousted from the show one time, and never invited back (this scene is well-played in the film, using real and new footage with Letterman's consent).
It wasn't until later on when I discovered the work of Robert Crumb that I realized who Pekar was.
Crumb and Pekar's realtionship is well-played too - Pekar the wordsmith, and Crumb putting the words to adult comic art.
Giamatti is briliant as Pekar (shoulda won an Oscar, though at least he WAS nominated), but Pekar shows up in the film as himself too, narrating all the way. Pekar is also depicted in comic book animation style, as are some scenes from the film, making it a visually unique experience.
Overall, it's just a great telling of this guy's life, family, work & relationships. He's a regular Joe, a working class bum, a bitter commoner, and I see a lot of Rob and Jeff in his attitude towards the bullshit of life (I mean that as a compliment of the highest order, guys). A poor man's Woody Allen, with more acerbic observations.
Very funny, entertaining, and insighful - a must-see.

motleymitch wrote on July 13, 2010, 3:44 am
Comment
I can't believe no one else has seen this!
With the passing of Pekar, you should really check this out to see what all the fuss was about. Or better yet, read some of his 'comics'. They are more genuine than most of the bullshit out there.
R.I.P.

Jefferygn wrote on July 13, 2010, 6:33 am
Rated
Oh, I've seen this too. I was the one who posted the "This Just In". I couldn't agree with you more; this is an outstanding film. Innovative. Engaging. Charming. And true to life.

(Btw, how does one change the pic on the "this just in"? I wanted to post the pic mitchay just put in his review, but I couldn't figure it out...)
Papamikey wrote on July 13, 2010, 9:11 am
Comment
Never heard of the guy - didn't know the comic nor remembered the movie (even though it was apparently nominated).

The guy LOOKED like a dickhead on Letterman...annoying and probably got more attention than he deserved because of it. He looks like he has serious psychological issues.

Basically, he reminded me most of Zeidel.

Short version: I won't be pursuing any of his work, thankyouverymuch.

Jefferygn wrote on July 13, 2010, 9:27 am
Comment
Mikey, seriously. See American Splendor. I have never picked up an issue of the comic, nor did I ever see him, back in the day, on Letterman. BUT, the movie is tremendous. You don't need to know anything of the protagonist to enjoy it. It's more than worth seeking out.
Papamikey wrote on July 13, 2010, 11:24 am
Comment
FINE.

I'll see it IF:

It shows up on the dish for free (or I see it at the library)

and

There are no other movies I want to see that involve Aliens, Mega-Sized Sharks, Zombies, Cyborgs, Ducks, Peaches, Lint or have ANY form of breast(s) in them.

I think we've struck an acceptable compromise!

Now...

motleymitch wrote on July 13, 2010, 11:53 am
Comment
Mikey, I own it. I can lend it to you for free next time we meet. You've wasted two hours of your life on worse stuff.

Papamikey wrote on July 13, 2010, 12:49 pm
Comment
Like I said...as long as nothing better is on. I've had movies sitting on my DVD player that have remained unseen because they are so LOADED with "Meh" that I can barely pick them up (ex: Brain Candy - by KITH).

I would even surf Facebook and read inane updates of people posting news about their child's poo than get up and place it (the movie, not the poo) in the DVD player...

I have the STRONG feeling these would be one of those discs.

Fleh.

Deril wrote on July 13, 2010, 1:26 pm
Comment
I love how the new default reasoning for watching any movie now is that (we have seen worse stuff than this.

too funny!
motleymitch wrote on July 13, 2010, 2:10 pm
Comment
Double true!
"I may as well see such-and-such, because after all, I sat through Cloverfield and THAT was terrible, so how much worse could such-and-such be? I've done worse things with my life!"

Papamikey wrote on July 13, 2010, 2:36 pm
Comment
YES.

It's DANGEROUS to apply this logic...if we follow the letter of the rule you're applying then we can watch ANYTHING:
Deril wrote on January 31, 2011, 10:28 pm
Rated
Well, I'm sure this will make me unpopular on this thread, but there is no way this is 4 stars.

I just did not find this guy's life at all interesting. He's a grumpy loser, lives in his own filth, and never really had to sacrafice to get ahead in life. I just can't get too into a bio-pic when the person is just so worthless.

I think the style was excellent and original. Giamatti was fantastic (especially after seeing the real Harvey Pekar in the film too. I can appreciate the level of acting and him really getting into his character. Beyond that. Meh!

Papamikey wrote on May 5, 2011, 12:46 pm
Rated
Sorry gents - I have to agree with Deril on this one, I FINALLY saw the film (as it was queued up next after, of all things, Billy Madison on the dish - so I left it on in the background) and I'm torn on the review:

On one hand I FULLY agree with Deril in that this Pekar idiot is just that: an idiot. He has ZERO redeeming qualities and is a miserable fuck who just writes miserable things for miserable people. Should I endorse this? No... life is miserable enough without over-saturating it.

On the OTHER hand though - the film ITSELF was well WELL done. I really like the way it was filmed with the REAL Pekar juxtaposed with his character and with the one played by Giamatti.

I wish this style would have been made about someone INTERESTING instead...like Allanah Myles.

I'll split the difference on the positive side.

What's your rating of this movie?

 

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