On the whole, An American Pickle is worth a view if only for Rogan’s performance. It’s a low key production, often bogged down by too many ideas, but ultimately pleasing.
An immigrant worker, played by Seth Rogan, ends up being pickled in a vat for 100 years , and wakens in modern day New York preserved and confused by this strange new world.
If the premise seems silly, it is meant to be, as the premise is just a way for director Brandon Trost to show the modern world through the eyes of a stranger who has no context for anything he is seeing. The screenplay is written by Simon Rich, who based it on his own short story.
Things get going when Herschel is united with his last remaining descendant Ben, also played by Rogan, and the main issues of the story, loyalty, family, betrayal and forgiveness, get thrown into motion.
Our time travelling protagonist Herschel is blunt, straight forward, hard working and unflinching in the face of adversity , unlike his last living relative Ben, who is pretty much his opposite.
The story focuses on the relationship between the two men, and the eventual jealousy and betrayal that tears them apart.
Despite the dark tone there, the film is pretty much a comedy, and there are a lot of nice funny set pieces here that satirise the world we live in today.
Herschel takes the modern world on, launching a range of pickled cucumbers made from rubbish from bins and rain water, that make him an internet sensation. Bloggers feature him online, and he goes viral, making more money than Ben , who is struggling to launch his own app “BoopBop”.
With the awkward comedy of early Woody Allen films, and a classic rags to riches to rags story, there is a lot to enjoy here.
Rogan plays both parts well, and finds a way to keep both characters separate enough to make you forget he is actually playing both characters.
On the downside, things do follow every beat that you might expect in such a film.
To it’s detriment, Ben becomes very bitter very quickly, and it seems a bit forced just to get the plot underway, and the silliness of the plot takes away from the points that it might be trying to make.
On the whole though, this is worth a view if only for Rogan’s performance. It’s a low key production, often bogged down by too many ideas, but ultimately pleasing.
The production was released digitally in America in August by HBO Max, receiving a limited theatrical release here in the UK, and if you are a film fan, I would recommend popping along to your Odeon to have a look.
3.5 – 5
Louie Fecou reviews films, tv shows and comics for Ready Steady Cut, HC Movie Reviews and We Have A Hulk. He currently runs his own business in between watching films.