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Seth Rogen in An American Pickle

We have been waiting to see what to make of Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle ever since it was announced that the comedy would make its debut on HBO Max. The premise sounded funny enough, but would it be broad and silly, or insightful and thought-provoking. Well, the first trailer for the Rogen vehicle has landed, and the answer seems to be, “A little bit of both.” Check it out now.

You know that story about Steve Rogers, the First Avenger who gets frozen in ice, only to wake up decades later and lead a team of Marvel superheroes as Captain America? This is just like that.

Seth Rogen plays two characters in the film, starting with Herschel, an immigrant worker at a pickle factory who falls into a vat and gets brined for decades. He wakes up 100 years later in modern-day Manhattan and needs to adjust. To do that, he’s teamed with his generational counterpart, Ben Greenbaum (also Rogen), and the men try to bond over their Jewish similarities.

How did Seth Rogen beat Adam Sandler to this pitch? The Sandman might have taken the concept down more adolescent avenues, though. Rogen seems to want to use Herschel’s plight to explore his own faith, via Ben’s defense of Judaism and his lack of participation in the religion’s strict practices. And that’s a clever way to get into a deeper conversation over faith and religion in 2020. I really hope the movie ends up being as deep as this first trailer turned out to be.

That’s not to say An American Pickle isn’t funny. I mean, just the idea of a man getting brined in a vat of pickles for decades opens the doors to inspired humor. And the David Bowie bit at the end of the trailer is really funny. You are right, Herschel. The great Bowie confused even us during his time on this Earth.

An American Pickle marks another bold step forward for streaming services, as they continue to lure marquee-level talents who tend to open their films in movie theaters. There’s been a ton of buzz about Hamilton going to Disney+ this week. Later in July, we have Tom Hanks bringing the WWII submarine thriller Greyhound to Apple TV, while Charlize Theron headlines the action thriller The Old Guard for Netflix. The line between theaters and streaming blurred very quickly, and this new practice appears to be here to stay.

In addition to Seth Rogen, An American Pickle co-stars Sarah Snook, Sean Whalen, Jorma Taccone, Joanna Adler and David Mattey. Brandon Trost directs the comedy, which will be available to stream on HBO Max beginning on August 6. Will you give it a try?

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