An American Pickle Parent Guide
The lighthearted screwball plot makes the more serious emotional content feel more grounded.
Parent Movie Review
Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) lives a hard life in Schlupsk (a vaguely Eastern European village), digging ditches to earn a living. But when he meets Sarah (Sarah Snook), he decides that he wants a better life so, in 1920, the pair pack up and move to New York. Herschel finds work as a rat-catcher in a pickle factory, until a bizarre accident sees him falling into a barrel of pickle brine immediately before the factory is condemned. Left in his airtight barrel, Herschel is perfectly preserved for a century until some kids playing with a drone knock the lid off. Now confronted with the harsh realities of life in the 21st century, Herschel tries to find comfort in his only surviving relative, great-grandson Ben Greenbaum (Seth Rogen), but soon finds that the differences between them may make a relationship impossible…
Seth Rogen is notorious for raunchy, highly sexual stoner comedies, and considering that this is releasing solely on HBOGo, it seems that he’d have cart blanche on all the dirty jokes his heart desires. This is, shockingly, not the case. This is a touching little story about the importance of family, religion, and hard work. And not a single reference to marijuana to be found – which, to my recollection, might make this the only Seth Rogen movie with that distinction.
All that said, this picture still isn’t squeaky clean – but it is close. There is a small amount of cussing, a few fistfights, and a number of deliberately offensive comments about both gender and religion (used to highlight the differences in culture between past and present). I’d say this film is perfectly pegged at a PG-13.
This movie isn’t necessarily for everyone, despite its remarkably clean bill of content: An American Pickle is usually a bit goofy. You could probably have assumed that from the premise, but this isn’t a terribly serious comedy. If you can’t handle some silliness, you’ll hate this film. I think the wackiness is handled remarkably well, and the lighthearted screwball plot makes the more important emotional discussion feel more grounded and significant. It has a remarkably sincere approach to both faith and grief, and even if the comedy isn’t your style, you might want to give it a watch. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write about a Seth Rogen comedy.Directed by Brandon Trost. Starring Sarah Snook, Seth Rogen, and Sean Whalen . Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release August 6, 2020. Updated August 7, 2020
Watch the trailer for An American Pickle
An American Pickle
Rating & Content Info
Why is An American Pickle rated PG-13? An American Pickle is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some language and rude humor.
Violence: There are several scenes involving fistfights. Individuals are splattered with blood during a Cossack raid. A rat is shown being smashed with a large mallet.
Sexual Content: There is one brief sexual reference.
Profanity: There are 6 uses of scatological profanity and occasional use of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An individual is briefly shown having a beer in a bar. Liquor bottles are seen in the background of some scenes. No characters are depicted as intoxicated.
Page last updated August 7, 2020
An American Pickle Parents' Guide
Herschel and Sarah saw their entire community destroyed by Cossacks. What is the history of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe like? Who were the Cossacks? What are they known for?
YIVO Encyclopedia: Jews in Eastern Europe
Wikipedia: Eastern European Jewry
Encyclopedia Britannica: Cossack
Ben and Herschel struggle to find common ground on a lot of issues. What do you think would be the most important change between 1920 and now? What do you think would be the hardest thing to explain to someone in that time? What’s something that you would struggle to understand from 1920?
History.com. The Roaring Twenties History
Related home video titles:
Judaism becomes an important part of Ben’s life as the movie progresses, and always was significant for Herschel. For something closer to Herschel’s experience, Fiddler on the Roof is probably the best alternative – if you don’t mind musicals. Other time-travel comedies for families include Back to the Future, Meet the Robinsons, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.