Splendid American Splendor Opens Today, Unique Animation Tie-Ins

If you happen to live in New York, Los Angeles or Cleveland (yes, Cleveland) you’ll be able to catch American Splendor– easily one of the best movies of the year–at a theater near you this weekend. Directed by documentary filmmakers Shari Berman and Bob Pulcini (Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasens), American Splendor tells the story of Cleveland-based comic book artist Harvey Pekar, whose sharply written comics offered a fresh take on the daily frustrations and dreams of ordinary people.

The film, which took home the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Fest mixes dramatic scenes (Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis deliver Oscar-worthy performances) with documentary footage and interviews with the real Harvey Pekar and his wife. Animation fans will be glad to know that the film also incorporates a few brief animated sequences. Created by John Kuramoto and Gary Leib (The Twinkle Brothers), the black-and-white Flash-animated spots are cool depictions of how Pekar was drawn by various artists such as Crumb.

Additionally, if you happen to pick-up Entertainment Weekly, you can find out how Pekar’s life became a movie–according to him. This original 6-page comic written by Pekar, drawn by Gary Dumm and colored by Laura Dumm, features voice-over artist and animation songwriter Will Ryan in the opening spread. Ryan, the creator of animation star Elmo Aardvark, was Pekar’s first cash customer. Back in 1976 he paid a whopping dollar for the first edition of American Splendor. For more info on Ryan check out Jerry Beck’s new article at www.cartoonresearch.com.

Also opening today, in much wider release, is the mother of all teen slasher films, Freddy Vs. Jason. The New Line Release, which combines the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, has been in development hell for nearly a decade, but now fans will finally get the chance to see their favorite boogiemen go glove to machete.

Directed by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Formula 51), The film features visual effects and creature animation by Cinesite, Asylum Effects, Pixel Magic, Eyetronics and WTC Prods. Wayne Beauchamp served as special effects supervisor.

According to a certain Animation Magazine staffer, Freddy Vs. Jason one of the most entertaining films of the summer. Good buzz and an aggressive marketing campaign has pundits predicting a box office win for this genre offering that is more comedy than horror.