An American Pickle First Reviews: Seth Rogen Shines in Surprisingly Sentimental Comedy

Critics say Rogen turns in some of his best work in this light, tender family drama hidden behind a seemingly wacky high-concept comedy.

by | August 5, 2020 | Comments

Subscribers of HBO MAX get two Seth Rogens for the price of one with the streaming service’s first original feature, An American Pickle. Rogen stars as a Jewish immigrant in 1919 who winds up thrust forward a century into modern America, where he meets his great-great-grandson — also played by Rogen. The one-man, two-character comedy is receiving mostly positive reviews, which highlight a sentimentality over hilarity as well as a surprising performance from its lead in his dual roles.

Here’s what critics are saying about An American Pickle:

Does HBO Max have its first hit on its hands?

It marks an auspicious beginning and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
– Pete Hammond, Deadline

An American Pickle is an absolutely brilliant two-hander… it’s exactly what we need right now.
– Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

In a time when we can all use a good laugh, An American Pickle very much delivers.
– Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

Even premiering on HBO Max, it feels awfully inconsequential, like an ambitious Funny or Die sketch.
– Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

Seth Rogen in An American Pickle

(Photo by HBO Max)

How is Seth Rogen?

This dual performance is the best, purest thing he’s ever done as an artist, in front of or behind the camera.
Matt Zoller Seitz,

An American Pickle features what may be the most mature performance we’ve seen from Seth Rogen in a while.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

The most exciting part of this pickle is Rogen’s breaking of his manchild mold to explore roles more challenging, rich, and uniquely funny.
Kristy Puchko, IGN

An American Pickle gets by on the strength (or make that strengths) of Rogen’s performance.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Rogen is so adept at breathing depth into two distinct roles.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Both roles ultimately demand a lot from Rogen, and he is exceptional.
Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

So two Seth Rogens isn’t too much Seth Rogen?

I was expecting something along the lines of Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill, but what I got instead is reminiscent of Nic Cage in Adaptation.
Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews

The movie trickery, laid on with extensive CGI effects, is impressive, aided immeasurably by Rogen in top form on both accounts.
Pete Hammond, Deadline

While the premise is promising, the execution aches from the growing pains of Rogen’s shifting persona.
Kristy Puchko, IGN

Seth Rogen in An American Pickle

(Photo by HBO Max)

Is it funny?

It’s not laugh-out-loud funny; it’s folksy funny.
Michael Roffman, Consequence of Sound

An American Pickle is more interesting than laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

[It’s] a comedy too contrived to be convincing and too formulaic to be funny.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

There are some scattered laughs but it’s not particularly funny.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

An American Pickle lacks the focus to be hilarious or emotional. Instead, it’s a frustrating, ramshackle affair.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

Does it hold particular appeal if you’re Jewish?

An American Pickle is most certainly the type of film that will appeal more so to Jewish viewers than a broad comedy audience.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

The humor is for the most part genuinely funny, and even doubly funny if you share in the Jewish references.
Gabriella Geisinger, Digital Spy

Seth Rogen in An American Pickle

(Photo by HBO Max)

Is this a more sentimental affair?

There’s a lot of heart behind the picture’s sentiments about familial honor, work ethic and religious heritage.
Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

An American Pickle uses arguably the dumbest concept imaginable to tell a surprisingly tender story.
Brandon Katz, Observer

There’s an undeniable and lovely sweetness at play in this film; a type of warmth and acceptance that helps elevate the entire package.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

An American Pickle is swift and nimble enough to avoid weighing itself down with schmaltz.
A.O. Scott, New York Times

Its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

An American Pickle premieres on HBO Max on Thursday, August 6.

Adjusted Score: 78.558%
Critics Consensus: An American Pickle lacks the tart snap viewers might expect given its creative premise, but Seth Rogen's dual performance makes this a low-key comedy to relish.
Synopsis: Seth Rogen stars as Herschel Greenbaum, a struggling laborer who immigrates to America in 1919 with dreams of building a... [More]
Directed By: Brandon Trost

Thumbnail image by HBO Max

Tag Cloud

hispanic AMC nfl YouTube Red crossover WarnerMedia italian Netflix Amazon Prime Video know your critic Film Festival Apple TV Plus YouTube Premium Winter TV TBS Universal PlayStation Drama The Walt Disney Company crime drama Sony Pictures Ellie Kemper Television Academy superman Wes Anderson award winner TV movies Tumblr adaptation VOD hidden camera Mindy Kaling rt archives fast and furious Elton John reboot 2019 DC streaming service historical drama Pixar Mary Poppins Returns documentary women Discovery Channel Apple TV+ anthology 4/20 kids screen actors guild nbcuniversal Podcast Christmas Disney streaming service witnail VICE dceu Action game show boxoffice Film target Disney festival aliens BET President Women's History Month emmy awards TV Spectrum Originals Bravo australia rom-coms Rock disaster Sundance james bond lord of the rings Star Wars dragons remakes critics satire supernatural cults teaser 72 Emmy Awards Comic Book richard e. Grant Exclusive Video 20th Century Fox Western Writers Guild of America halloween tv Starz international marvel cinematic universe Stephen King CMT spanish language Pop TV Baby Yoda OWN NYCC spy thriller San Diego Comic-Con Summer 2017 Fox Searchlight GoT quibi king arthur 2016 Fox News PBS spider-man HBO Max harry potter stoner travel ABC RT History name the review Ovation Awards Tour worst movies 24 frames politics directors Lifetime Christmas movies Reality E! BBC One green book kong A24 werewolf scorecard deadpool 45 true crime Character Guide Tubi children's TV monster movies Broadway olympics comics HBO Go Mary poppins zero dark thirty Masterpiece Fall TV ESPN medical drama universal monsters Calendar Photos natural history OneApp YA Pirates comic books comedies CBS Watching Series justice league book adaptation dc rotten movies we love 71st Emmy Awards Sundance TV 2018 USA Network Television Critics Association Interview science fiction robots TCA Awards Black History Month nature sag awards Columbia Pictures Lifetime crime IFC christmas movies Lucasfilm Comedy First Look streaming movies 2021 See It Skip It DC Universe hollywood TV renewals Box Office ratings sequels golden globe awards godzilla TCA HBO police drama anime 90s Trophy Talk blockbusters chucky Horror Travel Channel GIFs discovery spain Vudu Pride Month golden globes elevated horror TruTV cancelled television laika CNN 1990s Polls and Games Disney Plus Musicals VH1 Comics on TV social media DGA American Society of Cinematographers biography technology doctor who twilight psycho movie Star Trek Logo cooking Paramount Plus GLAAD BBC America finale Toys Schedule Tomatazos mission: impossible FOX serial killer RT21 stand-up comedy Valentine's Day Thanksgiving documentaries Marvel Television miniseries Syfy casting Esquire Britbox Trailer X-Men Amazon mockumentary Kids & Family batman black thriller Food Network based on movie Quiz Premiere Dates foreign The Purge Hear Us Out Holidays high school Teen Shudder screenings cartoon joker TCA 2017 sitcom First Reviews video on demand Music halloween diversity game of thrones blockbuster singing competition Mystery Warner Bros. FX series japanese scene in color facebook dark transformers ABC Family criterion Mary Tyler Moore The Walking Dead DC Comics festivals a nightmare on elm street Nat Geo rotten Tokyo Olympics unscripted heist movie Spring TV Walt Disney Pictures Superheroe Apple news japan breaking bad what to watch Superheroes wonder woman MSNBC Paramount spanish Disney Channel adenture New York Comic Con Pacific Islander Peacock cats Cannes Turner Sci-Fi Amazon Studios TV One Hallmark USA A&E NBC Funimation Amazon Prime comiccon Dark Horse Comics E3 FXX Turner Classic Movies stop motion toy story TLC dramedy Ghostbusters WGN Countdown Emmys Heroines BBC animated 2015 El Rey Creative Arts Emmys ID kaiju TCA Winter 2020 adventure romantic comedy aapi 21st Century Fox Best and Worst Captain marvel 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards DirecTV Marvel Studios concert Comedy Central zombie 99% LGBTQ Epix BET Awards blaxploitation TNT comic IFC Films trailers Spike political drama The Witch spinoff Musical Family Marvel book asian-american Extras SDCC south america 93rd Oscars dogs Emmy Nominations Election jamie lee curtis Cartoon Network streaming child's play Rocky venice mutant TCM revenge Avengers PaleyFest APB french Legendary Grammys latino The Academy football Shondaland Pop popular reviews slashers fresh parents crime thriller Acorn TV cops Lionsgate Reality Competition Song of Ice and Fire scary movies Rom-Com television indie superhero 2020 Black Mirror pirates of the caribbean Hallmark Christmas movies TIFF cancelled TV series Super Bowl Winners Rocketman suspense National Geographic Martial Arts Disney+ Disney Plus strong female leads canceled TV shows FX on Hulu composers Chernobyl cars cancelled TV shows Sneak Peek vampires legend movies docudrama toronto ViacomCBS live action Year in Review Classic Film Adult Swim romance psychological thriller tv talk Showtime Binge Guide Sundance Now docuseries SXSW new york Alien period drama Cosplay new star wars movies Crackle renewed TV shows obituary CBS All Access Set visit telelvision Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CW Seed Biopics Country cancelled The Arrangement all-time Endgame jurassic park Comic-Con@Home 2021 saw Nominations Pet Sematary LGBT talk show Nickelodeon Holiday Netflix Christmas movies Certified Fresh Opinion Arrowverse ABC Signature prank ITV YouTube cinemax sequel worst binge war indiana jones Fantasy Animation ghosts Mudbound boxing Marathons Freeform zombies NBA Infographic Paramount Network king kong Brie Larson theme song films versus 007 Hulu MTV video Tarantino razzies hist Academy Awards canceled Awards Video Games Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Red Carpet independent MCU Oscars sports new zealand Image Comics space BAFTA TV Land die hard classics Anna Paquin Trivia best archives Crunchyroll The CW History basketball SundanceTV franchise free movies