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American Splendor [DVD] [2004]


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Product details

  • Actors: Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Shari Springer Berman, Harvey Pekar, Chris Ambrose
  • Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
  • Writers: Shari Springer Berman, Harvey Pekar, Robert Pulcini, Joyce Brabner
  • Producers: Christine K. Walker, Declan Baldwin
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Optimum Home Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: 24 May 2004
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000216XRQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,453 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, this biographical comedy drama by documentary makers Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Sherman fuses live-action film, archive footage and animation to tell the story of comic book writer Harvey Pekar (played in the live action sections of the film by Paul Giamatti). Harvey leads a dull, monotonous life, working as a file clerk at a local veterans' hospital. At home, he fills his days by reading, writing and listening to jazz, and compulsively collects books and records which fill the walls and floors of his apartment. Inspired by the work of his friend Robert Crumb (James Urbaniak), Harvey writes comics about the minor trials and tribulations of everyday life, and gradually attains celebrity status as his work gains initially a cult and then a mainstream following. Despite his newfound success, it is his meeting with sardonic comic store owner Joyce Brabner (Hope Davis) that changes his life most profoundly. The two marry within days of their first meeting, and go on to co-write a book-length comic based on their life together, 'Our Cancer Year'.

From Amazon.co.uk

One of the most acclaimed films of 2003, American Splendor is also one of the most audaciously creative biographical movies ever made. Blending fact, fiction and personal perspective from the comic books that inspired it, this marvellous portrait of Harvey Pekar--scowling curmudgeon, brow-beaten everyman, insightful chronicler of his own life, and frustrated file clerk at a Cleveland VA hospital--is an inspired amalgam of the media (comic books, TV, and film) that lifted Pekar from obscurity to the status of a pop-cultural icon. As played by Paul Giamatti in a master-stroke of casting, we see Pekar and his understanding wife (played by Hope Davis) as underdogs in a world full of obstacles, yet also infused with subtle hope and (gasp) heartwarming perseverance. We also see the real Pekar and this multi-faceted commingling of "reel" and "real" turns American Splendor into a uniquely cinematic celebration of Pekar's life and, by extension, the tenacity of an unlikely American hero. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. D. Gregson-allcott on 18 Jan. 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I loved it, showed it to my friends, who also loved it, and then read the comics, which has led me to a whole new genre of good quality writing; on both the ills and highlights of real life. It also includes a healthy dose of sarcasm and to those Brits who say that the Americans lack a sarcastic side, please watch Pekar to prove you utterly wrong.
For those who know the comics, this movie includes Harvey Pekar in the movie and he is even funnier on film than he is in comic-book form. He is ALSO played by Paul Giamatti who seems to have been honing his skills playing a depressive, which he expertly reprises in Sideways. Although I think that Giamatti is actually better in Splendor than he is in Sideways and for those of you who haven't seen him in Duets, I urge you to see it as it is his best role in any movie. If anyone deserves an Oscar, this guy does!
The film covers most of Harvey Pekar's life up until the movie and thus covers highlights of his comic's many years. I feel that it show's the man that I wished Pekar to be and by including interviews with both him and Joyce during the movie (and in the extra's) I hope it at least gave Pekar a voice. Although whether we see the real man is impossible to know as so much is always left out in a 2hr movie.
Overall, the movie made me laugh and is weird enough to be genuinely innovative, especially the comic book format that begins the film, which is so much more effective than the comic-book style used in Ang Lee's "The Hulk".
Here's hoping this movie (and Pekar's comic books) get a wide audience, because they deserve one!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By moonmoth on 10 Jun. 2004
Format: DVD
I can't believe that there have been no reviews so far for this excellent movie. Its so audacious in places that I couldn't believe they could get away with it. One scene has the the real life Harvey Pekar and his wife watching the actors playing them watching a dramatised version of his life where other actors play actors playing them. Phew! You don't have to be a comic book fan to watch this and you don't need to be a fan of Harvey Pekars comic books which I confess I've never read. The success of his comic is based I think on his common appeal. Its precisely this appeal that makes American Splendour - the movie, appealing in its own way. Far from being depressing its uplifting,funny and moving and what else can you ask for in a movie?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hugh on 15 May 2007
Format: DVD
This film tells the tale of Harvey Pekar, a man disgruntled with the world around him and with unique voice for storytelling, which was put to bizarre use through the chance evolution of his stories into a popular and acclaimed autobiographical comic-book. I had no previous knowledge of Pekar, but the story is told in such an endearing and heartwarming fashion by one of modern cinema's most adaptable actors, Paul Giamatti, that this doesn't matter.

The film itself is short enough to not feel procrastinated and suitably stylish to do the comic-books justice, something which must be credited to the creators Berman and Pulcini. The faithfullness doesn't stop there: the themes of the comic-books are carried on throughout the title menues, the plethora of extra features and also the title menus, and they really do engage the viewer from the moment the disc is loaded. It is an example of a production studio using every tool to hand to convey the effort put in to the project from start to finish, and something which could teach the big studios the benefits of avoiding laziness.

This is not a film that will appeal to everyone, but to those with an eye for great storytelling that can be both hilarious and tragic in equal measures, then this film is a must see. Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis are in their element throughout, and ensure this film truly is an overlooked gem.
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By Mr. T. Ford on 10 Sept. 2012
Format: DVD
I didn't know what to expect from this film. Being English I wasn't aware of Harvey Pekar or his comics. I was sold on it's iMDB rating and the fact that Paul Giamatti stars in it. What I got was something wildly funny, imaginative, inventive and ever so slightly nuts!

You need not know who Pekar is, or even like comics particularly. But if you like well made films, which are well acted and with a good balance of comedy and melancholy I think you will enjoy this. Part documentary, part film, part comic book, ALL good!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gigoer on 10 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD
Based on the life of Harvey Pekar, American Splendour is an extremely unorthodox film about an extremely unorthodox person. Pekar is accuratley portrayed as a highly intelligent, yet neurotic and grumpy character that works as a file clerk and collects jazz records. He is famous for his autobiographical comic books and their only purpose is to describe his everyday life and whatever observations or lessons his overly eccentric character takes from it. To illustrate this, there are several Harvey Pekars throughout the movie, principally Paul Giamatti who plays the great man himself and the real Pekar makes several appearances too. At times, animated Harveys appear on screen in synch with the actors and oddly, this combination of film and animation invokes every scene in which they're featured.

The film is laced with banality but those who don't get that don't realise that therein lies its point. Pekar points out some of the most obvious things and usually with an unhealthy overdose of pessimism. Such as when the film opens and Pekar has lost his voice and immediately assumes he has throat cancer. Not only that, he has no voice to beg his wife to stay when he gets home from the hospital. Which of course, she doesn't. And don't you just hate it when you join the shortest queue in the supermarket and yet for some pathetic reason, it always takes the longest time to get through? Such ordinary realism that occurs in all our lives is brought to the screen with sardonic humour and a laugh at Pekar's expense.

It's unusual, but the main role is split between the real Harvey Pekar and Giamatti's portrayal of him.
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