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Movies to Watch if You Like ‘An American Pickle’

Welcome to Movie DNA, a column that recognizes the direct and indirect cinematic roots of new movies. Learn some film history, become a more well-rounded viewer, and enjoy likeminded works of the past. This entry recommends movies to watch after An American Pickle.

Seth Rogen plays opposite himself in the HBO Max original An American Pickle, a quaint but often ridiculous comedy about a man from 1919 who falls into a pickling vat and awakens in the present day. Rogen plays both that character and the man’s great-grandson as they first connect and bond over their familial relation and then clash in an amusingly convoluted plot that takes familial estrangement to the extreme.

Given its plot, An American Pickle is a perfect subject for this column, which celebrates the lineage of stories presented cinematically. While directly based on a short story titled “Sell Out,” written by Simon Rich and published in The New Yorker in 2013, its roots are obviously in another famous tale from two-hundred years ago. The following list recognizes that heritage as well as other genetic links and some additional relevant films worth watching next.

Rip Van Winkle (1903)

My first idea was to only recommend movies that came out during the time of Herschel Greenbaum’s deep sleep in the brine. But it’s actually more interesting to consider that he could have seen this particular movie if there was someplace showing it in the late 1910s. The four-minute film is a compilation of even shorter shorts produced as a series in 1896 by William K. L. Dickson

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