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"AMERICAN SPLENDOR"
(2003) (Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Heavy None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None Mild Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Minor Moderate Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A grumpy file clerk becomes something of a celebrity when his underground comic book about life's mundane matters becomes a hit.
PLOT:
Harvey Pekar (PAUL GIAMATTI) is a grumpy, middle-aged man who works as a file clerk with ultra-nerd Toby Radloff (JUDAH FRIEDLANDER) for Mr. Boats (EARL BILLINGS) at a V.A. hospital, and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

After a chance meeting with illustrator Robert Crumb (JAMES URBANIAK), Harvey decides to try his hand at drawing. He isn't any good, but Crumb is impressed by his writing and soon agrees to illustrate a comic book about everyday trivial and mundane matters that's to be known as "American Splendor."

Divorced several times over, Harvey gets a letter from comic book store owner Joyce Brabner (HOPE DAVIS) about his work. The two are soon an item and quickly marry. Yet, despite having a loving wife and being famous - including appearing on Late Night with David Letterman - Harvey is still a grumpy and cantankerous sort.

When a sudden serious illness affects him, however, and a young girl, Danielle (MADYLIN SWEETEN), comes into his and Joyce's lives, Harvey gets the chance to rethink his position on himself and the world in which he lives.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teenagers might be enticed by the offering, but unless others are fans of someone in the cast or the real-life Pekar and his comic book, it doesn't seem too likely that they'll be interested in it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • PAUL GIAMATTI plays a grumpy file clerk and writer of comic books about mundane lifetime events who remains a cantankerous sort despite somewhat becoming a celebrity. He uses strong profanity.
  • HOPE DAVIS plays the somewhat neurotic comic book store owner who becomes his wife and must put up with his odd behavior and bad disposition. She uses some profanity.
  • JAMES URBANIAK plays a cartoonist who agrees to help illustrate Harvey's comic book series.
  • JUDAH FRIEDLANDER plays Harvey's ultra-nerdy coworker.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 5 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Some sexually related dialogue is present and a man and woman are seen in bed together (nothing happens, but sex or fooling around is implied).

    Some bad attitudes are present (mainly from the main character who's surly and sarcastic), as is some tense family material. Thematic issues involve cancer, vasectomies and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In a still comic panel, we see a character drinking in a bar.
  • A song has the lyric, "If you like Pina Coladas."
  • We see wine in glasses on a hotel room floor.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see Harvey sitting on the toilet reading a letter from Joyce, but don't see any nudity or biological functions.
  • We hear sounds of Joyce vomiting in the bathroom. Later, we see an actress portraying that on the stage (nothing graphic and all faked).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some kids make fun of young Harvey's last name, calling him "P*cker" rather than Pekar.
  • Harvey has a stereotypical attitude about older Jewish women (that they'll haggle over the price of anything).
  • Harvey refers to his wife as the "old lady."
  • Harvey is confrontational with David Letterman on his TV show and comes off as having a bad attitude about himself and others.
  • Some viewers might not like it when Harvey sarcastically asks Toby why he even bothers to pray.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • In a still comic panel, we see a character holding a gun on another person.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Who the f*ck is this?" "F*cking freak," "Give me the f*cking charts," "F*cking idiot," "Open the f*cking door," "Where the hell did you get that sh*t?" "Wild sh*t," "Oh, sh*t," "(Same old/Hollywood) Bullsh*t," "What a crock of sh*t," "Fool," "You're one cheap bastard," "Chick" (woman), "Macho crap," "Who the hell /am I to be picky/cares?" "To hell and back," "Real nasty bitch," "Psycho-babble crap," "Old lady" (wife), "You selfish son of a bitch," "Screwed up," "Who the hell cares?" "What the hell /are you doing?" "Losers," an incomplete, "What the..?" "I don't give a damn," "Lazy ass," "Sell-out hack" and "Shut up."
  • Harvey refers to himself as a "Yidd."
  • Some kids might want to imitate Harvey's bad/surly attitude just to irritate others and/or think they're being funny.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's a tiny bit of regular and playfully suspenseful music.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song has the lyric, "If you like Pina Coladas" and later states, "If you like making love at midnight."
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 5 "f" words, 18 "s" words, 3 slang terms using male genitals ("p*cker"), 13 hells, 5 craps, 5 damns, 2 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 S.O.B., 4 uses of "G-damn," 3 of "For Christ's sakes," 2 of "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "Christ," "God only knows," "Jesus" and "Oh my God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • In a still comic panel, we see a character lying nude on the ground, but no details or graphic nudity are seen.
  • We see a still comic panel of Harvey stating that he's lonely and "horny as hell."
  • We see a comic strip showing a man saying he wasn't the last one (presumably referring to a man with a woman) and the other man then saying that a lot of people weren't (possibly sexual in context).
  • We see Harvey alone in bed in his boxers.
  • Harvey tells Joyce, upon first meeting her face-to-face, that he needs to let her know off the bat that he had a vasectomy.
  • After stating that they should skip the whole courtship thing and just get married (on the first day of actually meeting after letters and phone calls), we see Joyce in bed with Harvey. We don't know if they had sex/fooled around, but he's shirtless and she appears to be (both are under the sheets). He then asks if she's okay with him having had a vasectomy and she just shrugs.
  • A song has the lyric, "If you like making love at midnight."
  • In a play about Harvey and Joyce, we see performers passionately kissing on a sofa.
  • Wanting kids, Joyce tells Harvey that vasectomies are reversible, but he'll have no part of that.
  • We see Harvey in his boxers walking down a hotel hallway.
  • We see Harvey with his hands down inside his boxers (while scratching) when he finds a lump down there (we don't see it).
  • SMOKING
  • A miscellaneous person smokes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Harvey's gone through two divorces and then see a woman (maybe a wife) leaving him and see him pleading for her not to go.
  • We hear that Joyce is divorced.
  • There are various scenes where there's marital tension between Harvey and Joyce.
  • We hear that an artist has an ex-wife and he eventually lets Harvey and Joyce "adopt" his daughter.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Obsessive/Compulsive disorder.
  • Harvey comments that he'd like to trade pain-induced growth for happiness in his life.
  • Cancer and dealing with that.
  • Comic book writing and illustrating.
  • Vasectomies.
  • VIOLENCE
  • In a still comic panel, we see a character holding a gun on another person.
  • In a comic strip panel, we see a woman slapping a man (and hear the sounds of that).



  • Reviewed July 21, 2003 / Posted August 22, 2003

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