Herschel Greenbaum is a struggling ditch digger from Shtetl who, after falling in love and wanting a better life for his family, decides to find a better life in America. While working at his new job at a pickle factory, Herschel falls unnoticed into a vat of brine, perfectly preserving him for 100 years (don’t question the science). His only successor in present-day is his great-grandson, Ben Greenbaum, who meets Herschel. Herschel doesn’t understand Ben’s lifestyle, and Ben is quick to dismiss any advice given to him by his great-grandfather. ‘An American Pickle’ explores the family dynamics of different generations of the same family, and while not the balls-out comedy we are used to seeing from Rogan, is a charming and entertaining watch from start to finish.
Both Herschel and Ben are played by Seth Rogan, who leads this adaptation of the book “Sell out” by Simon Rich impressively. I enjoyed watching Rogan play both a serious role as well as the fish out of water role which is both endearing and impressive to watch. The technical achievements of playing against your own character in the same scene are always magical to behold. Ever since Lindsey Lohan’s ‘The Parent Trap’, to Paul Rudd’s Netflix series ‘Living With Myself’, I never get tired of the camera trick that is used in a unique way in playing with the idea that your ancestors and you look alike.
I’ve always had an interest in family genealogical work. Tracing your roots back to where you came from eventually leads to the question; “If they saw me today, what would they think?” What “An American Pickle’ does by exploring this concept as well as how would the modern-day world reacts to someone from a different time is incredibly topical. How would someone who never grew up with technology, social media, or even modern-day health regulations, learn to survive in the 21st century?
The weaker moments in ‘An American Pickle’ are where the film goes against it’s set rules for the world you are in. In some moments it seems incredibly topical and accurate to the world we are in with consequences for actions. But when it serves the story progression forward, those rules no longer apply to the characters which kind of underminds the films established guidelines. While Rogan’s performance is very impressive, there isn’t a lot of characters other than Rogan’s that maybe could’ve been interesting to explore in a b plot.
Overall, I had fun watching ‘An American Pickle’. I would recommend you watch this if you’re a fan of films like ‘The Disaster Artist’ or ’50/50′, and want to see both a comedic and heartfelt performance by Seth Rogan.