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Based on a New Yorker series by Simon Rich, the film stars Seth Rogen as Herschel Greenbaum, a Jewish-European immigrant who travels to the United States in the early 1920s. Herschel hopes to achieve the American Dream, but accidentally falls into a vat of pickles and is perfectly preserved in brine for 100 years (think An American Tail meets Futurama).
Waking up in modern-day Brooklyn, he tracks down his only living relative, great-grandson Ben Greenbaum (also played by Rogen). A mild-mannered app developer, Ben guides his culture-shocked ancestor through the newfangled 21st century. In turn, Herschel helps Ben get in touch with his ethnic roots. It appears to be a strange yet heartwarming story about family and cultural evolution.
Break out your Yiddish-to-English dictionary and check out the trailer now:
"He's from an era of different sensibilities and refuses to update to the times as he should," Rogen told USA Today, describing Herschel's character. "Unfortunately, that is something that is highly praised in our culture."
Struggling to adapt to a world so vastly different from the one he came from, Greenbaum Sr. uses his Old World know-how to create a pickle business that becomes a big hit with Brooklyn's famous hipster crowd. As the saying goes, when life gives you cucumbers, make kosher dills.
"What's funny is, I didn't eat one pickle throughout the entire movie," Rogen added. "Herschel doesn't get high on his own supply. Those pickles are for selling."
The movie was directed by Brandon Trost, cinematographer for well-known Rogen projects like This Is the End and The Interview. Rich adapted his own novella into the screenplay.
An American Pickle heads out of the barrel and onto HBO Max Thursday, Aug. 6.