THE PICKLE is an unsuccessful attempt to blend satire on the film industry with ensemble character drama. While poking fun at the ridiculous plot of a film-within-a-film (a giant pickle which travels to another planet), the satire here is pretty lame--especially compared with the biting cleverness of THE PLAYER last year. Raunchy language, sex and some nudity bring the entire project down yet another notch.
In THE PICKLE, Harold Stone (Danny Aiello) is a late-50ish film director with a track record admired by fans but not necessarily by critics. An acute need for cash has prodded him to accept the assignment of directing an inane project called THE PICKLE. Now, on the eve of a sneak preview, Harold is literally seeing his life pass before him. During a crowded 36 hour period, he reconnects with his extended family. In the background is Harry’s Parisian girlfriend Francoise, who wants him to slow down. Sneaking a look at his cassette copy, she (and we) get a few glimpses at this ridiculous fantasy/pseudo-allegory in which a small cadre of farmers fly to another planet in a gigantic pickle. His embarrassment leads to a suicide attempt while friends and family are at the preview. However, a phone call from the projectionist says that the film looks like a surprise hit. Harry decides to upchuck his overdose and take another shot at life and film directing.
Veteran writer/producer/director Paul Mazursky evidently couldn’t decide whether THE PICKLE should be a satire on modern filmmaking and marketing (ground already covered with greater skill in THE PLAYER) or family drama (ground already with greater skill just about everywhere else). While THE PICKLE has a few clever gags, the whole package doesn’t hold much water. Raunchy dialogue, sex and brief nudity don’t add a bit to the overall picture.
(H, LL, SS, NN, A/D) 16 obscenities & 4 profanities; upper female nudity; blunt conversations about sex; sexual immorality implied; and, alcohol use and smoking throughout (primarily by one character).