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What Critics Are Saying About Seth Rogen's Movie

The star impresses in 'American Pickle,' the film less so
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2020 1:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Seth Rogen is on double duty in An American Pickle, a tale of family and heritage from first-time director Brandon Trost and writer Simon Rich, on whose short story the film is based. Premiering on HBO Max, it follows an early 20th-century Polish-Jewish immigrant and pickle-factory employee who falls into a vat of brine and emerges perfectly preserved in modern-day Brooklyn, where his great-grandson resides. Critics are generally on board, giving the film a 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Four takes:

  • "Sometimes a logically indefensible premise is the only thing that makes life seem logical," writes Stephanie Zacharek. She calls the film "delightful," largely due to Rogen. He "has a great feel for Yiddish humor, for its lilting rhythms and its joy, but also for its bleakness," and he "can carry the movie's more serious threads too," she writes at Time.
  • "It's fun to see him flex and stretch acting opposite himself. He doesn't get enough credit for his more serious turns and this is a nice showcase overall," writes Lindsey Bahr at the AP. She gives the film 2.5 stars out of four, arguing it has "a few good gags and a fair amount of heart" even if "the good-hearted skewering of millennial DIY culture feels a little dated."

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  • Richard Brody, however, was not amused. "Rogen's comedic career has become dominated by an ethical focus, even an ethical obsession, that, in the desire to convey good values with good humor, has lost its spice, its risk, its sense of human trouble," he writes at the New Yorker. "As a result, his comedy has become filtered, replacing a wide purview and the possibility of wild emotion and loose-ended impulse with schticky tropes."
  • The film has a strong start, but then strains, according to Brian Lowry. "A lapsed Jew … [is] forced to consider his heritage by his exposure to his ancestor, a devout one. The film is simply too scattered, though, to make much of that, or indeed, settle on a consistent tone and stick to its threads," he writes at CNN. "In the process, the movie mostly squanders a pretty impressive performance by Rogen."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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