An American Pickle is the story of an immigrant worker (Seth Rogen) who falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years. It preserves his body and prevents him from ageing a single day. Despite waking up in the same spot, he soon discovers a world much different to the one he once knew as he connects with his great grandson (also Seth Rogen).
An American Pickle Explores The Past v The Future
An American Pickle is an eye-opener, acting almost as a biography/documentary on where we are in today’s society and how so much has changed in the space of just 100 years.
The film really gets into the swing of things when Old Man Seth (who is actually technically young but also technically not) wakes up in the present day and meets his great-grandson (let’s call him Young Man Seth).
Old Man Seth takes a step outside and witnesses a world much different to what it was before. For example, a young girl rides on a Segway (didn’t realise they were still a thing), people pass by in cars and electric scooters while a same-sex couple stroll by, holding hands.
Old Man Seth soon discovers that standards of living have also drastically improved with things like soda water affordable to nearly everyone in American society now (It’s the little things).
All of these are things that completely shock Old Man Seth, these are things he would have never witnessed or believed were possible 100 years ago.
This one scene makes it clear about why this film exists. Sure, it’s a good old Seth Rogen comedy film but it’s also much more. It’s a reminder of how far society, technology and ideas/values have progressed in the space of 100 years.
Something none of us take time to think about or appreciate, in the day-to-day hussle and bussle we don’t get the chance to think about the things that are considered normal now, were once believed to be strange and sometimes impossible.
Overall: An American Pickle serves as a light-hearted and satirical look at how society has changed, for both the good and the bad.
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How Capitalism Has Changed
An American Pickle explores our capitalist society quite extensively during the second act of this film.
For example: Young Man Seth is an app developer working from his apartment, using software and modern-day technology to create an app that checks how ethical a product is (not actually a bad idea, right?)
On the other hand, Old Man Seth wants to sell some pickles. An American Pickle then sets up this brilliant contrast between the traditional way people created a business and compares it to how it can be done now.
Old Man Seth without any money or resources, finds thrown out garbage and other materials to make and sell his own pickles, using only his initiative and determination to make some money.
Meanwhile Young Man Seth sits at home procrastinating, trying to perfect his app by deciding what colour his logo should be (We can relate). Oh Capitalism, sweet dear Capitalism, why do I love and hate you at the same time.
What seems like the most enjoyable part of the film actually low-key reminds us how much capitalism and business has evolved over the years. Today, selling and creating products have never been so easy. The development of tech, internet and social media have changed the way we build and sell products with people becoming millionaires without leaving their room (If anyone actually knows how to do this, please let us know).
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The Media and Angry Mobs:
The Media have a huge role to play in this film and the events that unfold. For context without spoiling the film: Old Man Seth and his pickles prove rather popular after a blogger/influencer finds his products that are created from flithy thrown out pickles and jars. The blogger instead labels them as being ‘artisan’, therefore promoting his pickles and making them the talk of the city.
The media give him a lot of attention, mostly positive. That’s until Old Man Seth opens up his mouth on political issues. Leading to him being propelled into this huge political row, leaving him adored by many and despised others.
Old Man Seth isn’t aware of his actions and how words can have huge effect and then touches on religion, causing a citywide mob to chase him down the streets.
An American Pickle explores how the media creates a narrative that always seems to include either a hero that should be worshipped or a satan that should be hated. There’s no in-between.
Old Man Seth who knows no better and is thrown into this whirlwind after simply speaking his mind. A mind that developed 100 years ago, when things were much different.
In fact, if one of us were to be transported 100 years in the future, our views would also likely be outdated and maybe considered extreme too.
While society has progressed and become more tolerant of differences, people are arguably more divided than ever before with everyone increasingly becoming more polarised. Some may say that the media is very much to blame for this.
Overall Thoughts of American Pickle:
- If you’re looking for an entertaining Seth Rogen style comedy, you’ll just about it find it here.
- However, If you’re looking for something with slightly more depth, you’ll find a film that explores how modern-day society has rapidly changed.
- An American Pickle explores both the best and worst of our modern world and for one of HBO Max’s first offerings, we highly recommend giving it a go.