An immigrant worker at a pickle factory is accidentally preserved for 100 years and wakes up in modern day Brooklyn.
What is your tolerance level for Seth Rogen? You may want to consider that question before checking out ‘An American Pickle’, a film that features a hell of a lot of Seth Rogen, two of him in fact. ‘An American Pickle’ is a quirky little independent film about a Jewish immigrant who gets preserved in a vat of pickles and wakes up over 100 years later in a New York City significantly different from the one he remembers. From this comedic premise springs a more thoughtful story about family, legacy and finding your place in the world, and ‘An American Pickle’ grapples with these elements with only partial success.
We begin with essentially a flashback sequence to Herschel Greenbaum before he arrived in America, where he met his wife (an all too brief appearance from Sarah Snook) and fled his country amidst violence to New York City. One day at his new job at a pickle factory, Herschel ends up in a vat of pickles just as the factory is closed down, leaving him undiscovered for 100 years when he is awoken and preserved as he was when he fell in. The film initially mines a lot of humour out of the ‘fish out of water’ nature of Herschel adjusting to life in modern, hipster Brooklyn, as well as exploring how he starts to interact and fit in with his last remaining descendant Ben (also Rogen). I was surprised at how the film expands on the relationship they form and the direction the narrative moves in was more interesting than what I was expecting, but the story never fully grabbed me enough to elevate it into something truly good.
Rogen is very good in both roles, playing both characters with similar characteristics but distinct enough to be their own people. I think the ridiculousness of the premise and how that blends into their relationship never goes far enough to be as funny as it could be, nor does it make enough of the sentimental aspects of the screenplay and we’re left with a film almost caught in between two directions as to how this story could play out.
Clocking in at less than 90 minutes is a big positive, particularly for a comedy, and there was enough here to keep me entertained, but ‘An American Pickle‘ isn’t a film that’s going to last long in the memory.
Directed By: Brandon Trost
Starring: Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook and Jorma Taccone