Movies based on comic books are springing up all over the
place these days (see our reviews of Hulk, Daredevil, Spider-Man,
and many, many more)—but American Splendor is an unlikely comic book movie.
Then again, Harvey Pekar is an unlikely comic book
Paul Giamatti plays Pekar, a hospital file clerk and a collector of
old records and comic books. When he creates a comic book (called American
Splendor) based on his own monotonous life, he becomes a cult hero.
American Splendor is the story of Harvey’s life. It tells about
his job at the hospital and his strange coworkers. It tells about his problems with his
voice and how he created his comic book. It tells how he met his wife, Joyce—and married
her a week later. It tells about interviews with Letterman and a battle with cancer.
The movie doesn’t really have a plot—it just tells Harvey’s life story.
But it does it in such an unusual way that viewers can’t help but take notice. Scenes in
the movie include the occasional editorial comments in the top left corner of the screen.
And between scenes, the filmmakers often add glimpses of the real Harvey (and the other
people in his life, including Joyce and his coworker, Toby) on the set.
American Splendor isn’t the most exciting of films (unless,
of course, you’re a Harvey Pekar fan). But it’s interesting nonetheless. If you love
comic books—or if you’re in the mood for something unusual—check it