Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Movie Review: "American Splendor" (2003)

Have you seen American Splendor?
I have. And its very good.

American Splendor is a story of a nobody (hmmm, sounds familiar). A Cleveland based hospital file clerk named Harvey Pekar. Pekar is a grumpy, pessimistic slob who was left by his first wife in the seventies and has grown to become quite the sour underachiever which eventually became the subject of his greatest creation, and life's true calling, his own underground comic book.
Pekar is in no way a hero. He scatches his balls in the morning. He lives in a one bedroom apartment full of old jazz records and he goes to the same boring job day in, day out (hmmm, sounds familiar). He somehow breathes life into his mundane existence however, by writing uncensored graphic tales of his everyday routine, like going to the supermarket and getting stuck behind a Jewish lady and eating at the same diner everyday.
What's unique about tis film?
The Academy Award nominated adapted screenplay by Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini treats the movie like a comic within a movie. Confusing? Yeah, I didnt understand that either.
With Paul Giammati (Donnie Brasco, Duets) as Pekar in more narrative parts of the movie, the real Pekar is also part of the cast as himself during the "off camera" sequences.
He is also in the movie in the actual TV footages of him in the "David Letterman Show". Hope Davis is also treated similarly as Joyce Brabner, Pekar's second wife and writing partner along with other of Pekars real-rife friends.

The movie is docile yet fired by the raw intesity of not pulling any punches attacking the system. Letterman, NBC nad MTV are not spared as they are portrayed as corporate monsters cashing in on Pekar's "celebrity". One very important scene is Pekar telling David Letterman off in public television how much a sellout he was and that he was just using Pekar as a laughingstock (which Letterman is notorious for).
Giamatti has always been a favorite of mine, he is very believable as Pekar even though Pekar himself is in the movie. Davis on the other hand, not only acts like the real Joyce, but looks like her too.
As the film ends, Pekar's story doesn't, he still has his comics to write and the rest of his life to complain about.

Rocketboy's Rating: **** (4 out of 5)


Anonymous American Splendor said...

Haven't watched this movie and the review is not at all convincing. The plot is very sober and also seeming very boring too. At many points in the review I was also got confused too.

3:58 PM


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