starring Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, James Urbaniak, Harvey Pekar
screenplay by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini, based on the comics by Harvey Pekar & Joyce Brabner
directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS
starring Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Denis Leary, Robin Tunney
screenplay by Craig Lucas, based on the novella The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley
directed by Alan Rudolph
by Walter Chaw The same between American Splendor and Ghost World is that both have middle-aged outcasts as protagonists who each collect old blues 78's, that both were adapted from comic books, and that there's a bus stop in Cleveland. The difference between American Splendor and Ghost World is that with two solitary figures in search of completion, there is the possibility for recognition of sameness--but with two figures (underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar and his wife Joyce Brabner (Hope Davis)) who have found in one another a sympathetic orbit, a partner in life and lo, with a child dropped willy-nilly into their midst to tie up loose ends, there is instead a sort of alien, island of lost toys exclusion that makes for a further alienation of the very alienated audience to which Pekar's comic so appealed and, eventually, took for granted and pandered. The difference between American Splendor and Ghost World is that one is in love with its contrivance and the other is in love with its melancholy.