Earlier this year, Sony sold Seth Rogen’s new movie, An American Pickle, to HBO Max, offloading it from their theatrical release schedule when coronavirus shut down the world. I said at the time that “This sounds like exactly the kind of dumb premise Rogen and his producing partners Evan Goldberg and James Weaver have a lot of fun with, and I expect a lot of ‘we can’t tell a 1900s man from a 2010s man’ jokes”. Well, the first trailer for An American Pickle is here, and this is not what I was expecting at all.
Sure, the premise is still dumb, but the tone is darker and much more sweet than I was expecting. And the films the trailer name-checks as examples of previous work are The Disaster Artist and 50/50, both previous Rogen projects that are more poignant and thoughtful than his usual R-rated fare. An American Pickle looks to have a similar streak, touching on grief and the weight of legacy and family expectations. And then I saw who wrote An American Pickle and got REALLY excited: Simon Rich.
A veteran of SNL and Pixar’s in-house writing staff, Rich has created two of the most criminally underappreciated comedies of the last decade, Man Seeking Woman and Miracle Workers. Man Seeking Woman is on Hulu, but Miracle Workers is only available if you still have a cable package and can get TBS. Otherwise, you’re SOL which is INSANE because that show is BRILLIANT and everyone should watch it and we should be referencing it constantly. It perfectly combines surrealist jokes with genuinely touching relationships and a string of flawless performances from Daniel Radcliffe, Geraldine Viswanathan, Karan Soni, and Steve Buscemi.
I am officially excited for An American Pickle in and of itself, and not just as a curiosity object as we test how major, first-run studio films play at home on-demand. I like Rogen best in dramedy mode, and his dual performance here seems perfectly poised to capture that, but I am mostly excited to see what Simon Rich does now. If An American Pickle is even half as good as Miracle Workers, we’re in for a treat.