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American Splendor | 2003 | R | - 3.4.5

Film based on the life of underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar: We see through cartoons and live action his life while he struggles professionally, he meets his wife, survives cancer treatments and becomes a cultural icon. While Paul Giamatti stars as Pekar, the real Pekar also shows up to set scenes and elucidate events. Also with Hope Davis, James Urbaniak and Judah Friedlander. Directed by Shari Springer Berman, Bob Pulcini and Robert Pulcini. [1:40]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - A woman kisses a man, and he moves closer to her to kiss her again. A man and a woman kiss and hug, and a man and a woman kiss in bed. A man and a woman are shown in bed together and we see his bare chest and shoulders. A man kisses a woman's neck, and a man and a woman kiss on stage during a play. A man is shown in his boxer shorts in a doctor's examining room, a man sits in his underwear in a few other scenes, a man removes his shirt and is bare-chested. A man puts his hand in his pants to scratch. We see a drawing of a nude woman lying on her back with her arm covering her breasts. A man talks about having had a vasectomy. A man invites a woman to stay at his apartment.

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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - A man kicks things and throws things around in a room. A man is very angry throughout the movie and is frequently angry with people around him, like with an elderly woman at the grocery store (his anger plays out in his head, not outwardly). Also a man yells at his wife in several scenes, a man and a woman yell at each other, and a man yells at and insults a man. A man collapses onto the floor. A man puts his hand in his pants to scratch and feels a lump (we hear that it is a malignant tumor). A woman vomits (we hear gagging), a woman vomits on stage during a play (we hear gagging). A man washes his hair and clumps fall out into his hands. We see drawings of a man suffering from the effects of chemotherapy: weakness, vomiting, and irritability. A cartoon man burps and scratches his stomach.

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LANGUAGE 5 - 5 F-words, 2 sexual references, 25 scatological terms, 3 anatomical terms, 21 mild obscenities, 4 religious profanities, 6 religious exclamations, 1 derogatory reference to Chinese people, 1 derogatory term for Jewish people.

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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Comic books, the American Dream, loneliness, depression, success, cancer, goals, self-destructive behavior, marital separation and divorce, obsessive-compulsive behavior, attention deficit disorder, chaos, retirement, stereotypes, vegetarianism, PETA, delusions of grandeur.
MESSAGE - Ordinary life is complex and full of ups and downs.
CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.



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