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American Splendor (film)

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Genre  Biography, Comedy, Drama
Country  United States
7.5/10 IMDb

Language  English
American Splendor (film) movie poster
Director  Shari Springer Berman Robert Pulcini
Release date  January 20, 2003 (2003-01-20) (Sundance) August 15, 2003 (2003-08-15) (United States)
Based on  American Splendor and Our Cancer Year  by Harvey Pekar Joyce Brabner
Writer  Harvey Pekar (comic book series American Splendor), Joyce Brabner (comic book series Our Cancer Year), Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Directors  Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Cast  Paul Giamatti (Harvey Pekar), Hope Davis (Joyce Brabner), Judah Friedlander (Toby Radloff), James Urbaniak (Robert Crumb), Harvey Pekar (Real Harvey), Joyce Brabner (Herself)
Similar movies  Priest, Bare, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Transamerica, Fish Tank, C.R.A.Z.Y.
Tagline  Ordinary life is pretty complicated

American Splendor is a 2003 American biographical comedy-drama film about Harvey Pekar, the author of the American Splendor comic book series. The film is also in part an adaptation of the comics, which dramatize Pekar's life. The film was written and directed by documentarians Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.


American Splendor (film) movie scenes

The film stars Paul Giamatti as Pekar and Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner. It also features appearances from Pekar and Brabner themselves (along with Toby Radloff), who discuss their lives, the comic books, and how it feels to be depicted onscreen by actors. It was filmed entirely on location in Cleveland and Lakewood in Ohio.

American Splendor (film) movie scenes

american splendor 2003 theatrical trailer


American Splendor (film) movie scenes
  • Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar
  • Daniel Tay as young Harvey
  • Donal Logue as stage actor Harvey
  • Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner
  • Molly Shannon as stage actor Joyce
  • Judah Friedlander as Toby Radloff
  • James Urbaniak as Robert Crumb
  • Harvey Pekar as himself
  • Joyce Brabner as herself
  • Toby Radloff as himself
  • Josh Hutcherson as Kid dressed as Robin, his first feature film appearance.
  • Gregory Budgett, an artist for American Splendor Magazine walk on as The Extra, who asked Pekar for his autograph at the book signing scene (in a leather jacket)
  • Eytan Mirsky as The Guitarist
  • Earl Billings as Mr. Boats
  • Maggie Moore as Alice Quinn
  • Shari Springer Berman (voice) as Interviewer
  • Robert Pulcini as Bob the director
  • Chris Ambrose as kid dressed as Superman
  • Production

    American Splendor (film) movie scenes

    Though Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini had directed documentaries before, American Splendor was their first narrative feature. Of the film's alternating of fictional portrayals with real-life appearances by Pekar and his friends and family, co-writer/co-director Pulcini recalled, "It really was the only way that made sense to tell that story because we were handed this stack of comic strips where the main character never really looks the same because he’s drawn by so many different artists. We wondered how to stay true to the material, and that’s the concept we came up with. The structure came out of that very naturally. It wasn’t something that we labored over." Berman added that upon meeting Pekar they felt compelled to include him in the film. "We also got to know Harvey even before we wrote the screenplay. We actually went to Cleveland and spent time with Harvey and Joyce, and spoke to them on the phone a lot. Once we spent some time with both of them, we were like, “Oh my God, we have to put them in the movie!” That was a case where we were still using our documentary instincts and had to figure out a way to include him in it that was a natural fit for the material." At one point, Pekar meta-references the structure of the film by doing a voice-over for a one-shot of Paul Giamatti playing him by saying "There's our guy. Well, it's me. Or the guy playing me. Though he don't look nothing like me, but whatever." David Letterman refused to appear in the film or allow the filmmakers to use footage of Pekar's disastrous final appearance on this show (though he had no problems with the earlier Pekar "Late Night" appearances that are shown), so that final appearance was done using oblique camera angles and a voiced-over audio of the incident.


    On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 94% approval rating, based on 181 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Exhilarating both stylistically and for its entertaining, moving portrayal of an everyman, American Splendor is a portrait of a true underground original." On Metacritic, the film also has a score of 90 out of 100, based on 42 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."

    American Splendor won the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, in addition to the award for Best Adapted Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America. At the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, the film received the FIPRESCI critics award. It was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2003 Academy Awards.

    Columnist Jaime Wolf wrote a laudatory review of the film in Slate, also drawing attention to formal parallels with Woody Allen's Annie Hall and other Allen films.

    Pekar wrote about the effects of the film in American Splendor: Our Movie Year.

    Awards and nominations


    Boston Society of Film Critics

  • Best Screenplay (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Chicago Film Critics Association

  • Most Promising Filmmaker (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association

  • Best Film
  • Best Screenplay (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • National Society of Film Critics

  • Best Film
  • Best Screenplay (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • New York Film Critics Circle

  • Best Actress (Davis)
  • Best First Film
  • Writers Guild of America (WGA)

  • Best Screenplay – Adapted (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Nominated

    Academy Awards

  • Best Screenplay – Adapted (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics

  • Grand Prix
  • Chicago Film Critics Association

  • Best Actor (Giamatti)
  • Best Actress (Davis)
  • Best Film
  • Best Screenplay (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture (Davis)
  • Satellite Awards

  • Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Giamatti)
  • Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Davis)
  • Best Director (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Best Film – Musical or Comedy
  • Best Screenplay – Adapted (Pulcini and Springer Berman)
  • Sundance Film Festival

  • Grand Jury Prize
  • References

    American Splendor (film) Wikipedia
    American Splendor (film) IMDbAmerican Splendor (film) Rotten TomatoesAmerican Splendor (film) Roger EbertAmerican Splendor (film) MetacriticAmerican Splendor (film)