Combustible Celluloid
With: Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook, Molly Evensen, Eliot Glazer, Kalen Allen, Kevin O’Rourke, Sean Whalen, Geoffrey Cantor, Carol Leifer
Written by: Simon Rich
Directed by: Brandon Trost
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language and rude humor
Running Time: 90
Date: 08/06/2020

An American Pickle (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Brine of the Times

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

An uncharacteristically low-key Seth Rogen comedy, An American Pickle is hit-and-miss overall, but Rogen's accomplished double performance, and the movie's sweet, winning attitude eventually carries the day. It's available on HBO Max.

Directed by Brandon Trost, a cinematographer on other Rogen movies like This Is the End and The Disaster Artist, from a story and screenplay by SNL writer Simon Rich, An American Pickle is essentially a one-man show. The second-billed actor, the talented Snook, appears only in the movie's first 10-15 minutes, and next on the list, Sean Whalen and Jorma Taccone, appear only for a couple of minutes. But Rogen nails it.

His Herschel starts as a bit of a caricature, rolling his dialogue through a comic Eastern European accent, but eventually his cleverness and heart come through. As Ben, Rogen has created perhaps his sweetest character, kind (his first reaction to Hershel is to invite him to stay in his apartment) and hopeful, and even a little timid.

The fish-out-of-water jokes and family-feud jokes aren't really enough to sustain a feature-length movie (not even a tight 90-minute one), but they are sporadically funny, and they continue into the final act (where many comedies tend to drop the jokes in favor of wrapping up the plot). In short, An American Pickle offers enough crispy, crunchy giggles to make it worth a look.

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