American Splendor (2003)



Critic Consensus: Exhilarating both stylistically and for its entertaining, moving portrayal of an everyman, American Splendor is a portrait of a true underground original.

Movie Info

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 Cleveland's thrift stores and garage sales for more, savoring the rare joy of a … More

Rating: R (for language)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Harvey Pekar, Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 3, 2004
Box Office: $6.0M
Fine Line Features - Official Site


as Harvey Pekar

as Joyce Brabner

as Toby Radloff

as Robert Crumb

as Mr. Boats

as Real Harvey

as Real Joyce

as Real Danielle

as Real Toby

as Superman

as Stage Actor Harvey

as Stage Actor Joyce

as Green Lantern

as Young Harvey

as Housewife

as Throat Doctor

as Old Jewish Lady

as Mattress Guy No. 1

as Mattress Guy No. 2

as WW II Patient

as Bob the Director

as Counter Girl

as Alice Quinn

as Cheery Waitress

as Guitarist

as Stage Manager

as Letterman Regular

as MTV Director

as Talk Show Host

as PA No. 1

as Cancer Doctor
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for American Splendor

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Critic Reviews for American Splendor

All Critics (181) | Top Critics (46)

I can't imagine how the filmmakers went about it, let alone pulled the whole thing off, but their film comes together in unpredictable and remarkably pleasurable ways.

Full Review… | April 12, 2013
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

The rare artist biopic that goes beyond the dull march of events and actually illuminates the creative process.

Full Review… | July 14, 2010
AV Club
Top Critic

A glorious rebuke to all this summer's recycled, effects-ridden, laboriously "fun" Hollywood disappointments piled along the wayside like so many crashed cars.

Full Review… | August 18, 2008
Top Critic

We're constantly kept on our toes regarding issues of representation while Pekar's sour but indefatigible working-class skepticism carries us along.

Full Review… | April 17, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Hugely enjoyable and very clever portrait of Harvey Pekar.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Like Ghost World before it, Pulcini and Berman have taken an unconventional comic and given it a cinematic make-over.

Full Review… | June 4, 2014

Audience Reviews for American Splendor


Harvey Pekar is the only person who could have a bio-pic like this. Melding together documentary filmmaking and narrative filmmaking, the director team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini bring Pekar to life, but also engaged Pekar. Through interviews with him and his wife, Joyce, we learn about the reality of his scourges, how he's still working for the same company, how much he loves his friends, his family, how he was treated by the Letterman show, and how he feels about comics, life, and love. Pekar is fascinating, while also being mundane, and that's also the rarity and greatness of "American Splendor" as a comic. Giamatti gives a top notch performance as the formidable curmudgeon, and Hope Davis is equally interesting as his anachronistic wife. This film has the right style, perspective, and humor, when dealing with the real life of one of America's best and most underappreciated graphic novel authors. It may not be for everyone's taste, because it is highly stylized, but it seems to fit with the less than glamorous life of Pekar, and that's only fitting.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


'American Splendor'. What a brilliantly ambitious film, with its merging of documentary and adapted comic screenplay! Surely up there with the best comic book to film adaptations of all time.

Harvey Pekar is a wonderfully rich character, and I kept watching it thinking of him as a blend of Art Spiegelman and Larry David; Paul Giamatti is perfectly cast.


Super Reviewer

Its awesome, fun, and charming. Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff. This film exploits that and creates a truly original film.

paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

American Splendor Quotes

– Submitted by Chad E (4 years ago)

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