An American Pickle

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6th August 2020

The film industry is quietly coming to life again. Cinemas are re-opening and films such as “Make Up”, “Saint Frances”, “Summerland” and “Unhinged” were already released. While the main audience is still waiting for the more popular movies, which are sadly being postponed, there are still some films that are worth a visit to the cinema. One of those is “An American Pickle”, the first full-length film by director Brandon Trost. The movie, which is based on the short story “Sell Out” by Simon Rich, brings some joy, fun and a double portion of Seth Rogen into your life.

Trost takes you on a journey that starts in the fictional town of Schlupsk in 1919. Despite living a wretched life, Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) becomes the luckiest man when he finds his Sarah (Sarah Snook). They become husband and wife, move to America and become the proud parents of a baby. It gets even better when Herschel finds a job at a pickle factory.

They’re living their American dream but it comes to an abrupt end when Herschel falls in a barrel of pickles. A hundred years pass by (still wondering why no one noticed that he went missing, but anyway) and when he miraculously gets out of the vat, Herschel wants to pick up his life where he left off. However, that might not be as easy as he has hoped for.

While he was preserved in brine and hasn’t aged at all, the world around him went on. After learning that his wife and son passed away, he finds out that he still has a great grandson, Ben Greenbaum (Seth Rogen in his second role). Ben, who also lives in America, takes Herschel under his wings and guides him through modern America. Herschel gets to know more about Ben’s Boop Bop application and his current lifestyle while Ben has finally someone to share his apartment with. However, their relationship turns into war when Herschel’s actions have irreversible consequences for Ben. The result? Well, that’s for you to find out!

Because Rogen plays both roles and even though the lifestyles of Herschel and Ben couldn’t be further apart, the film feels very repetitive and flat at some points. Even more so when the movie is all about the increasing rivalry between the two Greenbaum’s.

When one does something, you can predict what the other one will do and how it will turn out. While the movie starts very strongly, it goes a little bit downhill during the second half. Therefore, the movie would have benefited a lot by integrated more diverse events and jokes.

Yes, “An American Pickle” would have been much better if the movie would have had a lot more body and punch but that doesn’t mean it’s lousy or poor. No, some elements make from this film one that you will enjoy. The main one is without a doubt Rogen (“Long Shot”, “Like Father”) in his double role.

He’s a more traditional, violent and stubborn Russian immigrant but at the same time he’s the more modern, entrepreneurial and determined computer expert. Some might say his performances aren’t the funniest or wittiest ones of Rogen, they’re still incredibly enjoyable.

Rogen brings a lot of silliness, poignancy and emotions to this film. We do want to applaud his performances though because Rogen acted out his role as Herschel with beard first and then the entire movie again as the clean-shaven Ben.

Of course, we also have to congratulate the editor Lisa Zeno Churgin (“The Old Man & the Gun”, “Pete’s Dragon”) and cinematographer John Guleserian (“Love, Simon”, “About Time”). They make sure that both Rogen’s performances are incredibly well-crafted put together in every scene.

While we certainly prefer Guleserian’s previous work, he still does a good job with this movie and thanks to Churgin her wonderful editing, the movie gets a very smooth vibe. There’s also a quiet but still present musical score provided by Nami Melumad (“Anastasia”, “More Beautiful for Having Been Broken”) The music isn’t underplayed, as you hear it most of the time, but it’s also never overplayed, as it’s just soothing background music.

There are also the very universal topics such as religion, faith, family, relationships and technology thanks to which the audience can resonate to this movie in one way or another. Your own ideas about these topics will also determine which of Rogen’s characters you will prefer the most.

“An American Pickle” is brought to you by the producers of “The Disaster Artist” (such as Evan Goldberg, Alex McAtee, Seth Rogen and James Weaver) and “50/50” and if you combine this with two different Seth Rogen’s you know that you will see something you might like.

While “An American Pickle” is slightly repetitive at some points, the quirky story, the amusing performances and the current topics make from the movie a heart-warming, enjoyable and uplifting one.

An immigrant worker at a pickle factory is accidentally preserved for 100 years and wakes up in modern day Brooklyn.

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