June 24, 2011

American Splendor - 2003

Directors: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Writers: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Judah Friedlander, James Urbaniak

"Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff." Curmudgeonly file clerk Harvey Pekar (Giamatti) rises to fame by publication of a series of comics entitled American Splendor, marries one of his fans (Davis) after a week of knowing her, and battles cancer. The real Pekar narrates the film, as well as appearing alongside other real-life versions of the folks portrayed onscreen.

It's a biopic, a comic book movie, and a documentary...and somehow manages to do all three superbly. I don't think I've ever seen a movie better cast; the performers are nearly undistinguishable when put next to their real-life counterparts. While it obviously doesn't have the scale of your traditional comic book movie, the story carries it through nevertheless. Think Ghost World, but minus the two girls, and Steve Buscemi is a comic writer. I had wanted to watch this for years, and it completely exceeded my expectations.

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