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Review: An American Pickle – “Absolutely charming”

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An American Pickle is absolutely charming. No doubt helped by my casual fascination with Seth Rogen, the trailer just made my jaw drop.

It looked otherworldly. Genuinely like nothing I’ve seen before.

2020 being 2020, we were then told it would debut in a limited cinema run and, in the US, on HBO Max.

HBO Max seems to be tarred, from what I can see, due to its links to D.C. It doesn’t seem to have the credibility of other streaming sites, even though, from what I can see its initial output is on a par. It’s a shame as this is comfortably more interesting than many other films to debut on VOD — not least recently on Netflix or Prime.

With the current state of American cinemas, dropping this straight to VOD seems shrewd. Trying to get subs up on HBO max, with the news of Mulan hitting Disney+ this week, seems even shrewder.

My only confusion — much like the fabulous Palm Springs landing on Hulu — is that these films are available with a free trial. So whether Hulu and HBO see an overall increase in subscriptions will be interesting. It’s far too easy to set an account up, watch what’s available and then cancel before the subscription kicks in.

Either way, I’m firmly in the camp that’s delighted to be getting new content.

My urge to get to a cinema will be severely tested (if?) when TENET lands. For now? Give me new Seth Rogen from my living room, any day.

I have to say, I love the style of this film, which is directed by Brandon Trost. Initially, it’s shot as of its with a goldfish lens, bringing us right up to speed with Herschel Greenbaum (played by Rogen) early years, living and working until he falls into a vat of brine.

Yes, you read that right.

Brilliantly passed away with the following line and a few graphs; “The scientist explains. His logic is good. Everyone understands”, we’re now 100 years later in New York.

Seth awakens to realise his wife — who wasn’t attacked by rats and preserved in brine — is now passed. What follows is Seth Rogen, spending the rest of the film being both Hershel and his great-great-grandson, Ben.

With some coming of age comedy and coming to terms with “times”, Rogen is Rogen. If like me, you love him, you’re in for a treat. Introducing Herschel to modern music with Dirty Dancing’s ‘Stay’, lip-syncing and dancing is a particular high.

On coming to terms with such modern delights as soda streams, Herschel walks around Ben’s flat..

“Is this your father?”
“No, it’s David Bowie?”
“Is this your mother?”
“No… that’s also David Bowie.”

It’s a good scene, but there’s added weight. Where are the pictures of Family? Ben disappears to find a family album and Herschel is genuinely moved.

The film in general remains moving, because Trost allows scenes to play out and on this form, twice! He has got a Rogen that’s at the top of his game. Looking later out at the Statue Of Liberty — some 100 years after arriving as an immigrant.

This is timely and important. A fascinating concept, with a brilliant Rogen who’s really stretching himself at the moment.

I absolutely loved it. It’s not for everyone, but I loved its themes on family and religion. I loved the style and the reality that nothing lasts forever.

An absolute charmer and brief too. Apparently Rogen’s first “non R rated comedy”. It would make a lovely double bill with Elf.

An American Pickle was digitally released both in the United States on HBO Max, and in Canada on output partner Crave, on 6th August 2020. In the United Kingdom it opens in cinemas on 7th August 2020.

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