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With a little over two months under its belt, HBO Max is finally delivering its first original film later this week: An American Pickle, starring Seth Rogen in dual roles: Herschel Greenbaum, an immigrant from the early 20th century who falls into a vat of pickles and perfectly preserved for 100 years, and his great-grandson Ben, a computer programmer (it’s a pretty big dill). While the general public still has a few days before they can access the movie on the streaming service, reviews are now trickling in for An American Pickle. Overall, it looks like this will go down as one of the more solid movies in Rogen’s filmography, if not rank among the most exceptional.
Starting off, CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg awarded An American Pickle four out of five stars in his review. While the movie does have some issues with pacing and delivering its message, Eric praised Seth Rogen for delivering “two equally excellent performances” and noted how the actor’s “voice” is a good match with writer Simon Rick, who wrote both the An American Pickle screenplay and the original short story it’s based on, Sell Out.
Armed with a purposefully generic Eastern European accent, Rogen goes broad with his performance [as Herschel], and the payoff is excellent.
IGN’s Kirsty Puchko was similarly positive towards An American Pickle, giving it a 7/10 score. In Kristy’s mind, Rogen seemed “bored” by the archetype of his character Ben, but as Herschel, the actor embarks into “fascinating new terrain,” and the result is the audience being hooked on his every move, “be it awkward or outrageous.” Though the movie “meanders in the middle with slapdash satire and mismanaged emotional beats,” it’s a “solidly entertaining comedy” in its entirety.
HBO Max's An American Pickle sees Seth Rogen throw punches and punch lines in a biting dual role.
But not everyone enjoyed An American Pickle. Brian Truitt from USA Today gave the movie a 2 out of 4 score, calling it a movie that is “generally all over the place” and filled with some “scattered laughs,” but is ultimately not “particularly funny.” As Brian sees it, An American Pickle doesn’t quite stick the landing with its satirical elements, though the movie nonetheless manages to shine when Seth Rogen’s characters “hash out their differences.”
There's definitely a sweetness to Rogen's roles working out their issues, but the rest of Pickle just leaves a sour taste.
ScreenCrush’s Matt Singer also wasn't terribly impressed with An American Pickle, stamping the movie with a 5/10 score. Matt thought the early scenes contrasting the “cruelty” of Herschel’s old life with the “comfort of ours,” as well as the sequences establishing Herschel and Ben’s relationship, showed a lot of promise, and he also liked the movie’s cinematography. However, those are the “only consequential” parts of An American Pickle, with “40 minutes of an okay movie surrounding 40 minutes of a bad movie" (the entire movie is less than an hour and a half).
There are good things in American Pickle, like two convincing (and occasionally moving) performances from Rogen. But they’re the equivalent of a couple cucumber scraps in a giant vat of salt water.
Finally, Chris Evangelista from Slashfilm rated An American Pickle a 6.5 out of 10. The movie gets by on the strength of Set Rogen’s performances, while Simon Rick and director Brandon Trost’s work is a more mixed bag. At its core though, An American Pickle has, as Chris put it, “an undeniable and lovely sweetness” and “a type of warmth and acceptance” that elevates the entire product.
Too ungainly and unfocused for its own wellbeing, An American Pickle ultimately succeeds because it understands the finer things in life.
These are just some of the reviews out now for An American Pickle, so feel free to browse around the interwebs to learn what other critics thought of the movie. Along with Seth Rogen, the movie’s cast includes Maya Erskine, Sarah Snook, Eliot Glazer and Jorma Taccone, among others.
You can judge An American Pickle for yourself when it drops on HBO Max this Thursday, April 6, and if you’re not already signed on with the streaming service, a free seven-day trial is available. Don’t forget to look through our recommendations on other movies to watch that are coming to HBO Max this month.