Review by Dan Skip Allen
An American Pickle is an interesting look at how a person can come to America and make their own way. This film uses a time travel element to send a Polish immigrant (Seth Rogen) from 1919 to the present day. He was preserved perfectly in pickle brine for a hundred years and was eventually discovered by two boys in an abandoned warehouse. Now he must face a world he doesn't know and or understand and make his way in it once again. He is notified that he has a distant relative (also played by Rogen). They have to develop a relationship with one another despite their hundred-year age difference.
As far as movies about immigration go, An American Pickle isn't the best film available. Rogen is trying to get a message across about how sticking together and how family matters even in difficult times. The message of commerce is another good storyline in the film. It's not easy to make a living especially trying to build your own empire. Herschel finds it very difficult to navigate in a new world he doesn't know or understand. He reverts back to some old things that have helped him in the past, whether or not they are acceptable in today's society.
Rogen has made his name in Hollywood doing raunchy comedies like Superbad, Knocked Up and This is the End. Once he became successful he decided to produce television shows like Preacher and movies like 50/50 and Long Shot. This way he has been able to get messages and themes into his movies and make things he believes people will like and enjoy. Over the years he has made films about illness and politics. This time out he deals with immigration and free commerce. Having his platform in Hollywood has allowed him to do this despite if the projects succeed or if they fail.
Brandon Trost has primarily been a cinematographer in Hollywood with his brother Jason. They've worked on several Seth Rogen projects including This Is the End, The Interview, and Neighbors. An American Pickle is his first film in the directing chair. It's obvious that he is a good cinematographer because this film looks gorgeous from that point of view.
An American Pickle has some great messages of succeeding and failing in life. It has some beautiful cinematography. Trost captures Brooklyn and New York perfectly from that perspective. The problem with the film is the relationship between Hershel and Ben. They both shouldn't have been played by Seth Rogen. This is him just trying to be greedy and do both roles. Maybe it was part of the pitch. Who knows? It didn't work for me. The fish-out-of-water stuff was quite awkward and off-putting as well. It didn't get the laughs it was intended to achieve.
An American Pickle is now streaming on HBO Max.