The Pickle is a vegetarian turkey. Self-indulgent story about a depressed, dispirited, middle-aged film director aims for comedy and poignance that never come, and feels wearily disenchanted and out of touch.
More than 20 years earlier, Paul Mazursky made Alex in Wonderland, an appealingly personal look at a creatively blocked filmmaker with a hit behind him. By contrast, the director in The Pickle, Harry Stone (Danny Aiello), has made a string of flops and is suffering convulsions of remorse over having sold out for the first time in his career.
Mazursky once again summons up memories of Fellini’s 8 1/2 by surrounding his melancholy protagonist with two ex-wives, a 22-year-old French girlfriend, daughter, son, granddaughter, mother, predatory female fan, publicist and journalist, among others. Harry abuses almost all of his loved ones.
Mazursky layers the mirthless tale with black and white flashbacks to Harry’s youth in 1940s Brooklyn, as well as with bizarre snatches from the dreaded film-within-a-film, which concerns a space trip embarked upon by a giant pickle grown and launched by farm kids.