HBO documentary series review: ‘The Lady and The Dale’ tells the unbelievably true story of a transgender entrepreneur.

The Lady and The Dale

This four-part documentary series from Emmy®-winning producers Mark and Jay Duplass (“Room 104”) traces the audacious story of Elizabeth Carmichael, a larger-than-life entrepreneur who took the world by storm with her promotion of a fuel-efficient, three-wheeled car known as The Dale in the middle of the 1970s oil crisis. Liz’s promotional zeal thrust her into fierce public and media scrutiny which uncovered a web of mystery and suspicion about the car’s technology and her own checkered past.

This HBO docu-series about a mad genius who happened to be a trans woman, The Lady and The Dale comes from Emmy-winning Mark and Jay Duplass and is co-directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackery Drucker. Who is Elizabeth Dean Carmichael? Perhaps the first question should be, “Who is Jerry Dean Michael?” Smart, fearless, and loyal, Jerry might as well be the subject of Catch Me If You Can. Then everything changes as entrepreneur Liz arrives on the scene. She would be the one to rule. Using eye-catching 2D animation and archival footage to illustrate intimate sit-down interviews, it’s insanely engaging. The way this family was brought up sounds like it cannot be true but boy, is it entertaining. The FBI, the mob, the police, the media all wanted a piece of Jerry or Liz… or both. And this is only the first episode of this docu-series! To think this is merely a set-up for what is coming in Liz’s story is surreal. Last night, The Lady and The Dale debuted with back to back episodes. They are explosive and completely unreal. If you’re not completely hooked a few minutes into episode 1, I would be flabbergasted. The amount of information thrown at the audience is massive and completely intriguing. How do one woman and a three-wheeled car make history? Just you wait and see. This is a captivating story of a woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Elizabeth Carmichael would take on the auto industry and the world, for better or for worse. The final two episodes of The Lady and The Dale will air over the next two Sundays and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

Review: ‘An American Pickle’ has you seeing double on HBO Max.

AN AMERICAN PICKLE

AN AMERICAN PICKLE, directed by Brandon Trost, is based on Simon Rich’s New Yorker novella and stars Seth Rogen as Herschel Greenbaum, a struggling laborer who immigrates to America in 1919 with dreams of building a better life for his beloved family. One day, while working at his factory job, he falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years. The brine preserves him perfectly and when he emerges in present day Brooklyn, he finds that he hasn’t aged a day. But when he seeks out his family, he is troubled to learn that his only surviving relative is his great grandson, Ben Greenbaum (also played by Rogen), a mild-mannered computer coder whom Herschel can’t even begin to understand.

The simple wonders of experiencing something for the first time is essentially the purest form of comedy in An American Pickle. Seth Rogen plays two distinctly different versions of “himself”. Having met Seth in real life, his Ben character feels very much like him. Down-to-earth, genuinely sweet, and very funny. As Herschel, he is truly astounding. The magic in his eyes, the reverent and tender respect for history and his family. I fear Rogen gets lumped into a certain category when you mention his name. While I love all his films, An American Pickle is different in a good way for him. It’s an engaging script with a funny concept. But really, the film is about family loyalty and pride. The jokes are whipsmart and insanely relevant to the absurdity of social influence and 2020 in general. This film lives and dies by the performances from Rogen. He needs more opportunities to show his acting chops in earnest. While the film has a lot of hilarious moments, as a whole it’s a little meandering for its roughly hour and a half runtime. Come to think of it, it might have fared better as a serial sitcom. Nonetheless, I think it’s worth your time. If you’re a Seth Rogen fan you will not be disappointed. An American Pickle premieres tomorrow exclusively on HBO Max.

“An American Pickle” begins streaming on HBO Max on August 6