An American Pickle

American Pickle

By Joanna Langfield

If you are surprised at how good Seth Rogen is in his duel role here, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

Yes, Seth Rogen, the filmmaker who some seem to want to pigeonhole into that aging stoner guy, stars in this adaptation of a Simon Rich novella, where an early 20th Century Jewish immigrant suddenly finds himself in the company of his very 21st Century descendant. How this all happens is very silly (involving a plunge into a pickle vat and some 100 years of brining) and the results are a bit less salty than sweet, but there is still something very disarming about this uneven bit of business and that is its star, who brings some serious charm and understated savvy to the two men he creates.

I’m sure there have been plenty of producers telling Rogen to maintain his high, keep relying on the marijuana jokes that have earned his a loyal audience. And why shouldn’t they? If it’s only making money they’re worried about. But, almost subtly, Rogen has evolved, in films like, but not limited to, Take This Waltz (he’s wonderful), The Guilt Trip (sharing the bill with Barbara Streisand) and the terrific Long Shot, where he wins the heart of the far more, well more of just about everything, Charlize Theron, Rogen has brought some grounded, and yes, clear headed men to the screen, thoughtful, interesting men who, by the way, appreciate the women they share the screen with.

While parts of this fable bring some social smarts, there are also parts that seem to flail. However, if you aren’t drawn to at least a few misty tears by one, key scene near the end, maybe your pickles have been too sour for your own good. Go for a sweet one. You might like it.