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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Seth Rogen as dual-characters in new HBOMax original "An American Pickle." 

“An American Pickle” is a disastrous hour-and-a-half of pure lunacy

Seth Rogen may be one of the most enjoyable comedians of our time to watch, yet his latest project is a set-back to his impressive resume that includes memorable roles in comedies such as “Knocked Up” and “This Is The End.”

One of the first original films to be exclusively featured on HBO Max, “An American Pickle” tells the rushed, overbearing tale of Herschel Greenbaum (Rogen), a Jewish laborer in 1919 who immigrates to America with his wife for a better future. 

Herschel’s life takes a turn for the worst when one day at work, he collapses into a vat of pickles and is trapped for 100 years. Somehow, the brine preserves him perfectly and after making his way into modern-day Brooklyn, he connects with his Great Grandson Ben (also Rogen). As Herschel struggles to learn the ways of life in 2019, he and Ben form a bond both tumultuous and comforting.

What makes this movie so chaotic is that director Brandon Trust never gives us a moment to breathe. One scene after another, the film becomes more and more ridiculous and fails to ground the absurd silliness of the story in any way, authentic or clever. We’re just supposed to accept the madness of the story and not a single character seems to stop and pause for a moment to consider the craziness of what’s occurring. 

The rushed script that feels like it was written in an hour never allows us to truly understand both of Rogen’s characters, instead relying on recycled material that fails to deliver anything even slightly amusing. Written almost like a sketch-comedy, not a single moment in this film strikes a chord with the audience to make us want to follow the absurd journey of the characters. 

It is admittedly enjoyable at first to see two Seth Rogens on screen, yet the effortless attempts at storytelling prohibit the actor from expressing his true comedic powers. We’re expected to just go along with the continuous ridiculousness and silliness of the film without being rewarded with anything heartfelt or humorous.  

Perhaps the true reason the film struggles to succeed is that it doesn’t bother with properly developing the relationship between both of Rogen’s characters and rushes into one stupendous plot point after another. With absolutely no clear direction or attempt at creativity, “An American Pickle” is a complete flop whose chaotic and rushed story prevents anything special from generating. 

Final Grade: C-

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