a blog with cultural bulimia.

Friday, December 12, 2003

American Splendor
"This oddball indie movie about cranky Cleveland cartoonist Harvey Pekar was the most original movie of the year: a sweet-and-sour American wonder." Newsweek: Top Ten Films of 2003

The best movie I saw this year. Unless Cold Mountain delivers (a favorite recent book, hard to imagine translated into movie although I felt the same way about The Hours and it more than worked).
"There is a key scene in the film American Splendor in which our nerdish hero Harvey Pekar accompanies his still-more-nerdish sidekick, Toby, to a showing of the 1984 comedy Revenge of the Nerds. Toby, it transpires, is a devoted fan of the movie, which he interprets as an exercise in self-empowerment and a clarion call to arms. Harvey is more circumspect. Appraising the film's cast, he dismisses them as 'preppy Ivy League nerds. Not real ordinary slob nerds like us'.

The irony here is that American Splendor is everything that Revenge of the Nerds pretended to be and wasn't. The winner at this year's Sundance festival, the film offers a salute to your bona-fide 'slob nerd'. Its stars are a motley collection of dysfunctional file clerks, twitchy comic-book artists and 'self-diagnosed anaemics' who emerge victorious over the bastions of mainstream cool (as represented by MTV and the David Letterman show). In its wry, warts-and-all fashion, American Splendor celebrates the cult of the downtrodden, the sensitive, the occasionally malodorous. It's the movie that assures us that yes, it's OK to be a nerd."
Guardian Unlimited: "We are all nerds now"