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Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for language

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Brilliant performances and unsurpassed creativity, makes this a film that you're bound to find exceptional, whether you know the comics and their creator, or not.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Group audio commentary with directors and cast (including Harvey Pekar); Making-of featurette; DVD-ROM features; Original theatrical trailer

American Splendor
The film is based on the comic book, but it's no ordinary comic book, American Splendor (the comic book) is the creation of Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti), a slovenly hospital file clerk with a passion for telling his story, although he cannot draw very well. Still, since the late 70's he has been detailing his life in a series of autobiographical comics using different cartoonists to depict his life, including Robert Crumb. These comic books became kind of an underground success. The film features the real Harvey Pekar, as well as the actors who sometimes speak with the actual people they're playing. Filmmakers Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini take us back and show how the comic developed, including many major events in Pekar's personal life, such as marrying one of his fans (Hope Davis of The Secret Lives of Dentists) and going through a frightening bout with cancer. Giamatti brilliantly plays Pekar, even imitating his unusually hoarse, gravelly voice. But sympathizing with this most unusual character can be a challenge. It's the creativity of the filmmaking with it's mix of styles, like the hodge-podge of illustration styles in the actual comic books, that are really interesting and completely original. The filmmakers incorporated a number of clips from David Letterman's early talk shows. We see Giamatti as Pekar offstage waiting to be called on. When his cue comes, he steps forward and they cut to the real clip with Letterman and the real Pekar. And it really works. Letterman gave permission to show all Pekar's appearances on his show except one, where Pekar caused an uproar. So they had to recreate that one, with actors. It doesn't quite work, but because the film's so completely believable, with real people showing their real feelings, you buy into it. You relate to the characters as people you actually know and care about, who have to struggle with everyday activities, and try to figure out what life's all about.

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