Cheer up, grumpy gills

This year’s biggest Oscar crime would have to be Paul Giamatti being passed over in the Best Actor category. Giamatti (also snubbed by the Golden Globes) nailed comic book author Harvey Pekar, catching all of the infamous grouch’s cantankerous traits, both physically and verbally. It’s a performance as good as any other last year, but chances are not enough Academy voters were able to catch the film for voting purposes due to the Oscar screener ban that was in effect for a few months. The film deserved recognition as well. It’s a truly unique effort, incorporating real footage of the actual Pekar into the comic recreations starring Giamatti. It’s good to see Pekar get some recognition. He seemed to be in hiding since David Letterman banished him from his show many years ago (something the film chronicles). Judah Friedlander is funny as super nerd Toby Radloff, Pekar’s file clerk coworker. When Friedlander first speaks, it seems that he might be overdoing the characterization. Then the real Radloff shows up in the documentary footage, and it’s realized that Radloff is right on.

Special Features: The audio commentary is a fun one, featuring Giamatti, Pekar and wife Joyce Brabner (played by Hope Davis in the movie). Pekar says little, as expected, with Joyce doing most of the talking. A DVD-ROM animation conversation between Pekar and good pal Toby focusing mainly on fast food quality, is good fun. Cool menus, including Pekar walking down a comic book street, add to the spirit of the film. My Movie Year, a fun comic book insert written by Pekar, makes this a great package.

Movie: A

Special Features: B+

Geek Factor: 8.5