Yiddish hipster heaven awaits with Seth Rogen’s ‘An American Pickle’

The movie was directed by Brandon Trost, a cinematographer making his feature-film directorial debut, and was written by Saturday Night Live writer Simon Rich.

SETH ROGAN stars (twice) in ‘American Pickle.’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
SETH ROGAN stars (twice) in ‘American Pickle.’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There hasn’t been a good pickle movie since Crossing Delancey in 1988, but it looks like that’s all about to change with the release of the new Seth Rogen movie, An American Pickle, which will start streaming on HBO Max on August 6.
The first official trailer has just dropped and it looks to be sweet and sour fun, featuring Rogen in the dual roles of Herschel Greenbaum, an immigrant to the US, and his grandson Ben.

The trailer shows a film that is a combination of pickle-business comedy and heartwarming fable. It opens with all-Yiddish dialogue (subtitled into English) as Herschel, a bearded ditch digger in “Schlupsk, Eastern Europe” courts a woman (Sarah Snook) who dreams big. “Sometimes I imagine that I work hard and become rich,” she tells him. “How rich?” he asks. “Afford my own gravestone rich,” she replies.
Soon, they’re married and passing the Statue of Liberty as their ship sails to America on their way to realizing that dream. Herschel gets a job at a pickle factory and promises his bride that in 100 years, their family will prosper.
But he falls into a vat of brine and is left for dead, waking up 100 years later. A doctor explains that he was preserved by the brine. He must face the fact that his beloved wife is dead, but the consolation is that he gets to meet his grandson Ben, also played by Rogen.
Ben is a likable, orphaned and unemployed hipster/shlub, the sort of character that Rogen specializes in. When Herschel decides the best way to turn things around for Ben is to go into the pickle business with him, of course Ben resists at first.
The two go through some bonding escapades and Herschel exhorts his grandson to “throw his punch.”
In the trailer, Rogen seems to be moving out of his comfort zone in the role of the wise and lovable Herschel. The actor is from a Canadian Jewish family and his mother, Sandy, has a Twitter feed to die for.
The movie was directed by Brandon Trost, a cinematographer making his feature-film directorial debut, and was written by Saturday Night Live writer Simon Rich. Rogen is one of the producers, and the score is by Israeli-Dutch composer Nami Melumad.
Pickle-movie aficionados, faced with a month-long wait, may want to watch the very funny 2015 rom-com Maggie’s Plan, by Rebecca Miller, which features a key subplot about an “artisanal pickle maker.” Another option would be Paul Mazursky’s The Pickle (1993), not one of his best, about an aging director whose life is falling apart as he makes a movie about a giant cucumber that turns into a spaceship. Its movie-within-a-movie features Little Richard as the president of the universe but otherwise this Pickle is more slimy than briny.
Probably best to wait for Rogen’s kosher Pickle.