Thursday 6 August 2020

An American Pickle (Movie Review)

I've never been that big of a fan of movies where one of its main selling points is the fact that its principal actors are playing dual or multiple roles. Aside from Multiplicity, which I really enjoyed back in the day, I've always found the concept to be more of a gimmick than any else. Even in movies like Cloud Atlas that take the concept to a whole new level, I still find that it adds very little to the overall narrative.

So of course when I first heard about An American Pickle, I half expected it to be bad. But I was pleasantly surprised by this new Seth Rogen comedy, and its not-so-subtle commentaries on the world we live in today.

Released exclusively on HBO Max, the movie has Seth playing Herschel Greenbaum, a Jewish immigrant that comes to America with his wife in 1919, in search of the American dream. Struggling to earn an honest living at a pickle factory, he falls into a vat of pickles during a freak accident, just as the factory was shutdown, and there he would remain, perfectly preserved, until he is discovered 100 years later.

Seth Rogen also plays his great grandson, Ben Greeunbaum, who Herschel learns is his last remaining relative. Ben is a timid mobile app developer who appears to have turned his back on his roots and Jewish beliefs. When the two men are brought together, Ben attempts to help Herschel understand the strange new world he now found himself in, while Herschels tries to help Ben rediscover his roots.

An American Pickle is a self-aware comedy that serves as a showcase for Seth Rogen. He plays the dual roles of Herschel and Ben convincingly, even if the movie itself doesn't do much with its fish-out-of-water tale, beyond using it as a lens to examine how we've chosen to live our lives today. It touches upon everything from cancel culture to how industrialization continues to drive our encroachment on nature, but doesn't do much else other than point its finger at it and laugh.

At least that's one area where the movie excels, in its gags. The movie is laugh-out-loud funny, and not in the way you'd typically expect. I've always been a fan of Seth Rogen, since the days of Superbad and Knocked Up. But I was very much surprised by how tame An American Pickle felt compared to his other work, which were more often than not very crude. This is either a good or a bad thing, depending on where you stand on the presence of such jokes in these types of movies. But I personally found it refreshing that he didn't have to resort to crass humor to garner laughs here.

An American Pickle was a delight to watch and it earns an easy recommendation from me, especially if you're a Seth Rogen fan, or a fan of comedies in general.


  1. The crass jokes are why I've never been a fan of his movies, but I might watch a little of this one just to check it out.

    1. Lol. I don't really have a problem with those jokes... when they are done right. But great, I hope you enjoy it. 🙂