The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.
Set in the San Fernando Valley of 1973; Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson has created a loving and nostalgia-filled look at that era with his new film “Licorice Pizza”. The film focuses on a teenaged Gary (Cooper Hoffman) who becomes intrigued by an older photographer assistant named Alana (Alana Haim); during his school photo sessions. Despite their age difference; the two become friends and Gary attempts to impress her with his hustle as he works in the fringes of Hollywood and has become a regular on the audition circuit and various events thanks to his agent. When he is able to get Alana to act as his chaperone on a promotional trip to New York; reality sets in when Alana catches the eye of an older actor and starts dating him; Gary moves his hustle into high gear and begins a successful Waterbed business and even convinces his agent to represent Alana. What follows is a long-winding story as the two move into Hollywood circles and face various challenges associated with their times, confused feelings, and goals. While the film has some great moments and really great performance; especially that of Haim and Bradley Cooper; the two hours and forty-five minute run time seemed overly long and self-indulgent and could easily have lost forty-five minutes or so and not lost much as the film is loaded with scenes that are overly long or do not advance the story or characters in any meaningful way. In many ways, the film plays out like a teenaged boy’s fantasy as there is the alluring older woman and his repeated ways to impress her; some of which stretch credibility. What makes the film work so well is the nostalgic and loving look at the era and the winning performances from the cast. Much like he did with “Boogie Nights”; Anderson is not afraid to take broken or dysfunctional characters and make them sympathetic and relatable. Expect the movie to do well with the Award voters and it will be interesting to see what the cast will do next. 4 stars out of 5
I can't say I enjoyed 'Licorice Pizza' as much as most, but this flick from Paul Thomas Anderson is a good one. Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman are entertaining in the lead roles, with Haim particularly standing out - though Philip Seymour Hoffman's kid definitely improves as the film ticks by. There are some amusing roles for more well known faces, my favourite parts of this 2021 release are in fact with one of them - funny stuff! Some parts are amiss, mind; e.g. the strange Japanese wives bits. I did find the dialogue a little pretentious I can't lie, mainly early on as we get to know the characters - once everything is fleshed out and set it's all shipshape, to be fair. The film gets a tad aimless near the end, I'd actually say the pacing is perfectly fine but it does feel as long as it is in terms of the run time - I felt every second of the 130 or so minutes. All in all, I'd recommend it. Major film buffs will lap it up, evidently.