AMERICAN SPLENDOR Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: August 15, 2003

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Judah Friedlander, Danny Hoch, Earl Billings, and James Urbaniak

Genre: Biography/Comedy

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder AMERICAN SPLENDOR is
about the life of one, Harvey
Pekar (“Pee-car”), a
grumpy counter-culture,
anti-establishment file clerk
working at the Cleveland V.A.
Hospital. One day in the mid
1960s, while rummaging through
a garage sale for jazz
records, Harvey meets budding
cartoonist Robert Crumb, who
becomes famous doing
counter-culture comic strips
and moves to San
Francisco. Always depressed
and pessimistic, Harvey
becomes inspired by his friend
Crumb’s success and decides
to do his own comic book based
on his own life, including the
people he meets at work and on
the street. Although Harvey
can’t draw, his friend Crumb
is impressed with the stories
Harvey has to tell, which have
a peculiar urban humor to them
when mixed with Harvey’s
dour worldview. Working with
Crumb and other illustrators,
Harvey publishes AMERICAN
SPLENDOR #1 in
1976. Surprisingly, there is a
small market for Harvey’s
realistic, but humorous, tales
of working-class life in
Cleveland. One of his fans,
Joyce Brabner, writes him a
letter. Joyce’s sardonic
persona clicks with
Harvey’s. Soon, they get
married, and Joyce finds
herself accompanying Harvey on
a series of trips to New York
City, where Harvey makes
several guest appearances on
the “Late Night with David
Letterman” show. A cancer
scare brings into their life a
bright little girl named
Danielle, whom they eventually
adopt. Through it all, Harvey
continues to work as a file
clerk at the V.A. Hospital,
until his retirement in
2001. Character actor Paul
Giamatti gives a funny,
poignant performance as Harvey
Pekar. Hope Davis plays
Harvey’s opinionated wife
Joyce. Judah Friedlander
delivers an hilarious
performance as Harvey’s
co-worker Toby, a
self-proclaimed nerd who
speaks in a clipped, nasal
monotone. The movie also uses
documentary footage of the
real Harvey Pekar being
interviewed by David Letterman
and for the film, as well as
illustrations from Harvey’s
comic books and the
illustrated book he did with
Joyce about his battle with
cancer, OUR CANCER
YEAR. AMERICAN SPLENDOR the
movie is not a political film,
but it shows Harvey making a
few pointed political comments
against capitalism and against
a large company with ties to
the American military. He also
tells his wife Joyce that he
doesn’t really want to have
any children. Despite this
anti-establishment attitude,
the movie is really about how
Harvey gains both a wife and a
family. In fact, the movie’s
ending features a poignant
scene of Harvey walking
Danielle to her school bus,
and a touching scene at
Harvey’s retirement party
where he, Joyce, and Danielle
share a hug. In the end,
therefore, Harvey’s love of
comic books brings him the
“bourgeois,” family values
that his politics and his
grumpy, pessimistic outlook on
life rejects. The reason for
why this may be so is not
evident from the movie. The
Bible tells us, however, that
God has established a system
of truth and morality which
transcends politics, culture,
class, and ethnicity. Thus,
even the heathen unconsciously
seeks after the things of God,
and most people with
non-Christian worldviews have
to incorporate some biblical
principles in their thinking
to make sense of
reality. Please address your
comments to: Mark Ordesky,
President Fine Line
Features An AOL Time Warner
Company Robert Shaye & Michael
Lynne Co-Chairman/Co-CEO New
Line Cinema 116 North
Robertson Blvd. Suite 200 Los
Angeles, CA 90048 Phone: (310)
854-5811 Fax: (310)
854-1453 Web Page: www.flf.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 101 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(H, Acap, AP, B, LLL, N, A, M) Humanist worldview about a grumpy counter-culture, anti-establishment comic book writer who gripes about the world, including a few brief comments against capitalism, the sameness of American cities, the 1980s, yuppies, and a large company with ties to the American military, but whose life ultimately reflects some of the “bourgeois,” family values he apparently rejects; about 39 obscenities, including a few “f” words, 10 strong profanities, and woman gets sick and has to vomit; no violence; no sex but several references to man’s vasectomy; upper male nudity; alcohol use; no smoking; and, protagonist is perpetually grumpy, which sometimes leads to rude behavior.

GENRE: Biography/Comedy

Acap

AP

B

LLL

N

A

M

Summary:

AMERICAN SPLENDOR is a true story about a grumpy file clerk who gains a wife, an adopted child, and a bit of fame when he publishes an ongoing comic book series about his life. AMERICAN SPLENDOR ultimately paints a positive portrait of one unique man and his family, but it contains plenty of strong foul language.

Review:

AMERICAN SPLENDOR is about the life of one, Harvey Pekar (“Pee-car”), a grumpy counter-culture, anti-establishment file clerk working at the Cleveland V.A. Hospital. One day in the mid 1960s, while rummaging through a garage sale for jazz records, Harvey meets budding cartoonist Robert Crumb, who becomes famous doing counter-culture comic strips and moves to San Francisco.

Always depressed and pessimistic, Harvey becomes inspired by his friend Crumb’s success and decides to do his own comic book based on his own life, including the people he meets at work and on the street. Although Harvey can’t draw, his friend Crumb is impressed with the stories Harvey has to tell, which have a peculiar urban humor to them when mixed with Harvey’s dour worldview. Working with Crumb and other illustrators, Harvey publishes AMERICAN SPLENDOR #1 in 1976.

Surprisingly, there is a small market for Harvey’s realistic, but humorous, tales of working-class life in Cleveland. One of his fans, Joyce Brabner, writes him a letter. Joyce’s sardonic persona clicks with Harvey’s. Soon, they get married, and Joyce finds herself accompanying Harvey on a series of trips to New York City, where Harvey makes several guest appearances on the “Late Night with David Letterman” show. A cancer scare brings into their life a bright little girl named Danielle, whom they eventually adopt.

Through it all, Harvey continues to work as a file clerk at the V.A. Hospital, until his retirement in 2001.

Character actor Paul Giamatti gives a funny, poignant performance as Harvey Pekar. Hope Davis plays Harvey’s opinionated wife Joyce. Judah Friedlander delivers an hilarious performance as Harvey’s co-worker Toby, a self-proclaimed nerd who speaks in a clipped, nasal monotone. The movie also uses documentary footage of the real Harvey Pekar being interviewed by David Letterman and for the film, as well as illustrations from Harvey’s comic books and the illustrated book he did with Joyce about his battle with cancer, OUR CANCER YEAR.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR the movie is not a political film, but it shows Harvey making a few pointed political comments against capitalism and against a large company with ties to the American military. He also tells his wife Joyce that he doesn’t really want to have any children. Despite this anti-establishment attitude, the movie is really about how Harvey gains both a wife and a family. In fact, the movie’s ending features a poignant scene of Harvey walking Danielle to her school bus, and a touching scene at Harvey’s retirement party where he, Joyce, and Danielle share a hug. In the end, therefore, Harvey’s love of comic books brings him the “bourgeois,” family values that his politics and his grumpy, pessimistic outlook on life rejects.

The reason for why this may be so is not evident from the movie. The Bible tells us, however, that God has established a system of truth and morality which transcends politics, culture, class, and ethnicity. Thus, even the heathen unconsciously seeks after the things of God, and most people with non-Christian worldviews have to incorporate some biblical principles in their thinking to make sense of reality.

Please address your comments to:

Mark Ordesky, President

Fine Line Features

An AOL Time Warner Company

Robert Shaye & Michael Lynne

Co-Chairman/Co-CEO

New Line Cinema

116 North Robertson Blvd.

Suite 200

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone: (310) 854-5811

Fax: (310) 854-1453

Web Page: www.flf.com

SUMMARY: AMERICAN SPLENDOR is a true story about a grumpy file clerk who gains a wife, an adopted child, and a bit of fame when he publishes an ongoing comic book series about his life. AMERICAN SPLENDOR ultimately paints a positive portrait of one unique man and his family, but it contains plenty of strong foul language.

In Brief: