American Splendor 2003

American Splendor

Critics Consensus

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

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 186

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 44,564

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Movie Info

Underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar, portrayed by Paul Giamatti but also appearing as himself, is the subject of this inventive biopic. Much of the film focuses on the eccentric Pekar's day-to-day life in Cleveland, particularly his relationship with his patient wife, Joyce Brabner (played by Hope Davis and also appearing as herself). As Pekar's musings are brought to the screen in this unique and engaging production, the movie playfully incorporates comic book-like panels.

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Critic Reviews for American Splendor

All Critics (186) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (174) | Rotten (12)

  • 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.

    April 12, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The rare artist biopic that goes beyond the dull march of events and actually illuminates the creative process.

    July 14, 2010

    Scott Tobias

    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.

    August 18, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    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.

    April 17, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Hugely enjoyable and very clever portrait of Harvey Pekar.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It would be a mistake to regard American Splendor as an anthem for the common man. It is the uncommon that is being celebrated here.

    August 7, 2004

Audience Reviews for American Splendor

  • Sep 27, 2015
    American Splendor is quite the postmodern film. It's an interesting take on life from the POV of a normal eccentric man. The film itself is normal eccentric, neither straightforward nor weird. Those who enjoy aspects of postmodernism such as messiness and infinite regress will likely enjoy American Splendor. And, of course, Paul Giamatti is great in it.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 18, 2013
    An astoundingly unique biopic about Harvey Pekar, an underground comic book legend, American Splendor is a funny, moving, and thrillingly original take on one man's struggle-filled life. The movie plays out as almost a documentary, especially during the sequences in which the real people that the movie is about are on camera talking to the filmmakers. It adds a strange but welcome feeling of realism in an unusual way, and it helps you to understand the real people behind the story. Paul Giamatti does a typically spectacular job in the lead role of Harvey Pekar, and even through his more moody moments it's always easy to connect to Pekar's frustrations and disappointment. The script is absolutely fantastic, and there's one scene in particular that is near-perfect, in which Giamatti, as Pekar, is telling a story directly to the camera about the bizarre number of Harvey Pekars he found in the phone book and who they were. As an indie comedy, a bleak docudrama, or a lovingly-crafted biography of a troubled man, American Splendor is overwhelming in its originality and charm, and makes for an incredible movie with a wonderful story to tell.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2012
    American Spelendor is an amazing movie. I couldn't believe the filmmakers Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini actually used actors and their real life counterparts together during scenes and in a way I was kinda in a "whoa" moment because I hadn't seen that before. Overall the picture plays like a comic book, the picture is never boring, the performances are flawless espeically Hope Davis's performance who actually looked like Joyce Brabner back in the 1980's but really the film really goes to Harvey Pekar. Even though Pekar himself thought he would never amount to anything would actually became a comic book icon thanks to the success of his American Splendor comic books. Pekar even got to go to Cannes. Even for me I find that a major achievement.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2012
    '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.
    c0up   Super Reviewer

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