Quiet in San Fran11 May 2008
— Errata Movie Podcast —
2003, United States
directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

American Splendor is the condensed film version of the American Splendor comic books which are the condensed comic version of the life of Harvey Pekar, a Cleveland-based file clerk. Pekar writes comics about the mundane details of his life and was introduced to many people (or to me, at least) through his volatile appearances on Late Night with David Letterman in the 80s. The movie blends episodes from Pekar's life — in which actors Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis play Pekar and his wife Joyce Brabner — with interview footage of the real Pekar, footage of his appearances on Late Night, a recreation of his last appearance on Late Night, selections from his comic books, and a recreation of a stage play based on American Splendor. The fictionalized parts with Giamatti and Davis make up the bulk of the movie, but rather than feeling like reenactments they sit nicely alongside the other incarnations of Harvey Pekar, just another reflection of the grumpy, neurotic anti-celebrity himself. The movie becomes a sort of meditation on projecting your image into the world, and while Pekar does it a bit differently than most of us, the appearance near the end of an adopted daughter, who takes on the traits of her parents while attempting to make them her own, shows that even people who don't write about their lives still replicate themselves by affecting the world. I don't think the movie captures much about how people read comics, and it grafts an improbable character arc onto Pekar and Brabner, but it hedges the sentiment by having Harvey say that he and Joyce still fight all the time.

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