indulge in some quiet time





a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation


editor's note 

o lounge 
o nourish 
o host

o send an ECARD

submit your ideas
support digs

rented any good movies lately? jump to the boards and recommend it. 
other new + recent LAZE features:
o Flick: Lost in Translation
o Mix it Up: Making Mix Tapes
o Flick
: Spellbound
o Flick
: Trembling Before G-d
o Flick
: Melvin Goes to Dinner
o Flick
: Diamond Men
o Flick
: The Ref
o Flick
: The Apartment
o Flick
: Castle in the Sky
o Flick
: Finding Nemo
o Flick
: Charlotte Sometimes
o Flick
: Better Luck Tomorrow
o Flick
: Best of Everything
o Flick
: Peyton Place
o Books: Travelogues
o Flick
Breakfast Club
o Flick
: Singles
o Flick
The Fast Runner
o Flick
o Flick
Bowling for Columbine
help support digs ... shop for movies, books  and more at the digsShop
donate to digs directly!

Shop at Amazon.com

copyright ©1999-2004

buy the

flick pick | American Splendor 2003
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Written by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini , Harvey Pekar (comic book), Joyce Brabner (comic book),
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis
Look for it at the video store under: drama, new release
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: artsy-fartsy, true?!?
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Harvey Pekar is one cantankerous schlub. He has a dead-end job as a medical records file clerk that he tolerates just well enough that he's never tried to find anything more fulfilling. He lives in a dark, cramped hole of a Cleveland bachelor pad (though he's been married multiple times) that looks like it's channeling a design style partway between crack den and used record store. His best friend at work is weirdo and self-proclaimed "world-class nerd" Toby Radloff, a guy who genuinely thinks Revenge of the Nerds is a work of cinematic genius. And when he's not spending his free time obsessively collecting records and expressing his bitterness at the world, Harvey also happens to be the writer-creator of an underground comic book sensation, American Splendor. Based on the very ordinary escapades of his utterly ordinary life, the writing comes out of Harvey's own experiences, with the drawing supplied by a host of Harvey's comic artist friends. Most famous of them is Robert Crumb, who shares Harvey's passion for old records, and is the first to encourage Harvey into believing that his humdrum life makes for truly extraordinary comic book fare. In Harvey's world, art and life are one and the same; through his comic, he even meets his third wife and unlikely soulmate, an eccentric comic book store owner named Joyce. As American Splendor reaches a sort of cult status, Harvey and Joyce find themselves coping with Harvey's quasi-celebrity status, along with more mundane difficulties of marriage, family, and a struggle with cancer.

Review Comic book movie adaptations are all the rage these days, but it's fair to say that American Splendor stands way, way out from all the rest. For one thing, the movie tells the story in a very unusual, deeply meta- sort of way. Like the comic book, the movie blurs the lines between real life and art. There are the fictional live-action portions, interspersed with documentary-style talking heads and old TV footage, complemented by comic book-style animated sequences. For another thing, Harvey Pekar is not your typical comic book hero. He's bald, he's funny-looking, he's deeply disgruntled, he's sort of a lech. And oh yeah, he's a real person, with all the complications and contradictions that that implies. A movie like this couldn't work unless we absolutely believed that the actor playing Harvey Pekar really was Harvey Pekar; fortunately, Paul Giamatti is so perfect in the role that when the real Harvey periodically shows up on screen, you have little problem believing that these two men are one and the same person. (The same is true of the other people in Harvey's life: Hope Davis especially, ever the chameleon, absolutely unequivocally is Harvey's wife Joyce Pekar, from the black wig and glasses to the distinctive mannerisms.) Ultimately, what makes American Splendor work isn't the cleverness of the film's construction, but Harvey himself. He makes ordinariness seem utterly fascinating; he's simultaneously pathetic and kind of admirable. Even as he finds a certain level of fame, first with the comic book and then with a stint on the Letterman show in the 80s, Harvey doggedly plods on with his boring job and continues to live in his shack of a home. There's no attempt to work towards something "better," the way we're usually encouraged to do in American culture. Harvey is what he is, and he makes no apologies for it. And in this more-money-better-cars-bigger-houses society in which we live, there's something kind of beautiful about that. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

looking for a recommendation? 
find a flick to suit your mood

or browse the 
complete list of flick picks

---------------------------> lounge . nourish . host . laze . home .