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American Splendor

Director:  Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Year Released:  2003
Rating:  2.0

Didn't walk out of the theater on a high from this one, and am still plagued by some troubling concerns about the way Berman and Pulcini handle the subject and his various incarnations. The acting is spectacular - Paul Giamatti's portrait of Harvey Pekar-the-caricature and Hope Davis as his judgmental spouse make for the ultimate odd-ball couple - and the idea of "Pekar" becoming the embodiment of the silent, ugly American living a life of quiet desperation for others to identify with resonates with we outsiders (because let's face it, if I had a lot of things to do in my life I wouldn't have the time to sit around and type this up), but the movie is exactly the opposite of what Pekar stands for (his voice-over, commenting negatively on the movie as 'we're' watching it, tries to beat potential outsider criticism to the punch) and the mood is that of Glossy Patronizing - the filmmakers lambaste MTV for treating Toby "White Castle" Radloff as a joke and David Letterman for regarding Pekar as a street corner madman, but aren't they, despite the smoke and mirrors, doing the same thing? The last act tries to use Big C to add pathos and weight ... which interesting, I think, since it's the only time Berman and Pulcini play the material straight instead of with a sarcastic grin.

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