American Pickle Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: Seth Rogen does a good job of playing two roles at once; satire of the American press, television, academia, left-wing social movements, and ostentatious religiosity; a fair dose of Russophobia; really funny first half of the movie Cons: Unfunny second half of the movie; strong emphasis on the importance of accepting one’s historical roots and religion; completely nondescript supporting cast of An American Pickle / “American Pickle”

Genre fantastic comedy
Director Brandon Trost
Starring Seth Rogen (Hershel Greenbaum and Ben Greenbaum), Sarah Snook (Sarah Greenbaum), Jeffrey Cantor (David Greenbaum), Carol Liefer (Susan Greenbaum), Molly Evensin (Clara), etc.
Studios Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Year of release 2020
Site IMDb

Herschel Greenbaum is an Ashkenazi Jew who fled the Russian Empire due to pogroms and arrived with his wife in the United States. His secret dream is to become so rich that one day he can try seltzer water (that was the name of ordinary table mineral water in the late 19th and early 20th centuries). Greenbaum’s wife is pregnant, and he gets a job as a rat hunter in a factory that produces pickled cucumbers. Don’t ask what rats do in a canning factory, An American Pickle is an absurdist comedy in many ways, especially in the first forty-five minutes. So it turns out that Herschel Greenbaum falls into a vat of brine and spends exactly 100 years in it, emerging in 2020. His only living relative is his great-grandson Ben Greenbaum, a programmer who is developing a revolutionary application that tracks… the ethics of the products and goods you buy . Ben takes Hershel to his home and tries to adapt him to the modern world.

Actually, the first half of the film, in which the accidental time traveler is surprised by the changes that have occurred during his “absence” and encounters the people, phenomena and rules of this new world, is a fairly traditional and sometimes funny sitcom. But the second half, in which Hershel first tries to prove to his great-grandson that he is a complete loser, and then tries to help him come to terms with the death of his parents and accept his Jewishness, looks different.


There is more satire here, primarily on American society and the hypocrisy inherent in modern society. American television, which cleverly sucks at perfect banalities, and the religious cargo cult, which has replaced faith for our contemporaries, gets the nuts. The writers of An American Pickle take a look at Internet application developers and investment bankers; on millennials’ concerns about environmental friendliness of products and five minutes of hate on Twitter; on US emigration legislation and the American scientific community; according to current Internet sensations and Russian reality, etc. Russia, although theoretically here it is Belarus, is shown in the film very grotesquely, but at the same time completely realistically, I would not be surprised if the creators of An American Pickle are accused of Russophobia.


Yes, snow-capped mountains in Belarus, a working synagogue in Shlyupsk, a completely incorrect selection of cucumbers for pickling, a swamp, taiga, wolves, a nuclear power plant, potato vodka, which for some reason turned into vanilla in translation, and other surreal elements – this is normal for the grotesque. comedies.


Undoubtedly, satire is good. But in An American Pickle this very satire was not very funny. And in general, the entire confrontation between Hershel and Ben looks completely far-fetched and artificial. As does how Ben eventually came to terms with the death of his parents and embraced his Jewishness. The same themes could have been played out more subtly.


An American Pickle is a benefit performance for Seth Rogen; the actor plays both Hershel and his great-grandson in the film. Although there are quite a few minor actors in the film and some of them have very bright characters, they are all lost against the backdrop of the conflict of the Greenbaum family. At times you get the impression that you are watching some kind of elaborate avant-garde one-man show, in which one actor moves from chair to chair to depict a conversation between several characters. Ultimately, how much you like or dislike An American Pickle depends heavily on how you feel about actor Seth Rogen.


By and large, An American Pickle is a good comedy. But not good either. A passable film that only pulls out a little Seth Rogen, absurd humor and political satire. Watch at your own risk.

If you’re looking for something funnier, check out the comedy Palm Springs starring Andy Samberg.


The perception of An American Pickle depends heavily on how you feel about comedian Seth Rogen

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