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Summer Indie Counter-Programming
Posted June 18, 2010 to photo album "Summer Indie Counter-Programming"
In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, Nick Dawson looks back at summer indie hits from years past.
Slide 11: American Splendor
Release Date: August 15, 2003
Domestic Gross: $6,010,990
Programmed Against: Freddy Vs. Jason
When Freddy Vs. Jason hit cinemas in the summer of 2003, it boasted not one but two legendary bogeymen from long-running horror franchises and was ready to face off with anything a comic book movie could throw at it. But, like Ghost World, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s American Splendor was not your typical comic book movie, as there was not a superhero, scheming criminal mastermind or damsel in distress to be found. The film was based on the autobiographical comic books written by Harvey Pekar (in collaboration with numerous artists, including Pekar’s friend Robert Crumb), telling the story of Pekar’s decidedly humdrum everyday life. Directing duo Berman and Pulcini, former documentarians, had fun mixing together non-fiction with fictionalized reconstruction, going all meta by putting the real Harvey Pekar and his wife Joyce in the movie and having Pekar commenting on Paul Giamatti, “this guy who is playing me.” Pekar’s unique personality and perspective, the creativity and invention of its makers and great performances by Giamatti (in his breakout role) and Hope Davis (playing Joyce) all contributed to American Splendor overcoming its underdog status to become a hit both with reviewers and at the box office.