An American Pickle – A Movie Review

An American Pickle is a strange, disparate comedy, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

The premise is that an impoverished immigrant comes to America with his new wife, begins working in a pickle factory, and then, after falling into a vat of brine, wakes up 100 years later in modern day Brooklyn. He only has one surviving member of his family left, a great-grandson. By the way, Seth Rogen plays both the immigrant and the great-grandson.

I described An American Pickle as strange and disparate because while there are some laugh-out-loud moments, this movie is oddly quiet and serious at times. It very much centers on the importance of both family and faith. However, it will then switch gears and become absolutely ridiculous. This uneven pacing threw me for loop, but that’s not to say I didn’t like it. The unpredictable nature of the film actually kept me engaged.

Again, An American Pickle has a rather unexpected sense of poignancy. Rogen plays both Herschel Greenbaum and Ben Greenbaum. Herschel is literally a relic of the past. He is bias, violent, crude, and uneducated, yet he is also devoted to family, hardworking, tenacious, and devoutly religious. Ben, on the other hand, is technologically savvy, intelligent, and politically correct, but he’s also disconnected from society, has no real sense of family, and won’t acknowledge his own emotions. I think we recognize certain aspects of ourselves in both these characters–the good and the bad.

There also seems to be quite a bit of social commentary in An American Pickle (but you have to perhaps overanalyze the film in order to recognize it). The insanity of our current political climate, our overabundance on technology, our waning sense of community, our religious indifference, and our tenuous grip on family bonds are all on display in An American Pickle. Of course, the film is not overemphasizing these issues, but they are definitely there if you want to notice them.

I wouldn’t say An American Pickle is among my favorite movies, but I certainly enjoyed it and appreciated the fact that it took a different approach to comedy. If you’re in need of a quick, unusual movie to watch, I recommend you give An American Pickle a try.

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Neighbors – A Movie Review

There’s no way to avoid the obvious – this movie is hilarious.  Truthfully, I don’t ask much from my comedies, and Neighbors delivered.  The thing just spouted off one joke after another, one visual gag after another, and it kept me laughing throughout.

If you’re not familiar with the plot, a couple sink every penny they have into a new home in a nice, quiet neighborhood in order to give their baby daughter a proper upbringing.  Yeah, the parents have a wild side, and the “grown up” lifestyle is difficult for them, but it isn’t until a frat inexplicably buys the home next to them that they realize just how “old” they really are.  After initially trying to win over the frat guys, they call the cops when the noise doesn’t stop, and from that moment on, it’s war.

Sure, it’s Seth Rogen basically playing the same guy he always plays, but that guy is typically pretty funny.  Rose Byrne absolutely holds her own in the film and is even more funny than Rogen much of the time.  The two guys who really surprised me, though, were Zac Efron and Dave Franco.  They play the frat’s president and vice-president, and they were ridiculously funny.

This is not high-brow stuff, but who cares?  I love to laugh, and this one had me laughing nonstop.  Make sure the kids are in bed, though. You probably know this if you’re familiar with Rogen’s work, but there is major profanity throughout, lots of drug use and references, and plenty of explicit material.

But man, it’s funny.