Licorice Pizza Review

A cross between Lady Bird and Call Me by Your Name.

This past weekend I was invited by Lucy Manuel to watch the movie Licorice Pizza. Before agreeing to watch said movie, I googled it and was met with “Licorice Pizza is a 2021 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who also serves as one of the film’s producers and cinematographers. The film stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, and Benny Safie.” So that description told me absolutely nothing. Initially I refused to watch this movie, first because of that poor description and second because the movie itself was over 2 hours long (2 of my greatest cinema pet peeves).

Still, Saturday’s dreary weather gave us little else to do, so I agreed, after watching the trailer, to give the movie a try. However, we decided to go see the 3:55 movie at 3:55, so it was a race to the theater, and we ultimately had to buy tickets online for the absolute gouge of $15 each. Once we got our popcorn and were seated, we thankfully only had to watch a few commercials before the movie began. Like said before, my expectations for the movie were quite low and I had absolutely no idea what to expect because of the horrible advertisement.

Plot: Licorice Pizza is one of those movies that doesn’t have a clear struggle or resolution that must be reached, instead it’s a 2 hour compilation of what you are assuming to be a few years. The opening scene introduces the two main characters: Gary Valentine, a 15 year old child actor and businessman, and Alana, a 25 year old still living with her parents and working for a photography company. Gary falls in love with Alana, who refuses his advances, and the two become close friends and eventually business partners. However, the two face jealousy and eventually separate, with Alana working for a mayoral campaign and Gary opening a new business. However, the ending brings the two back together. This movie would best be described as like Lady Bird, very indie and odd, with the age gap from Call Me by Your Name. Many critics found an issue with the fact that the age gap between the love interests was initially pointed out by the characters themselves, but ignored towards the end of the movie.

The long awaited Bradley Cooper feature.

Cast: Although Francis Drake saw Bradley Cooper in the movie description and waited an hour and a half for his appearance, don’t get your hopes up for him. He was in about three minutes of the movie, and his entire character felt very unnecessary. However, what I didn’t realize until the credits scene is that Alana (the main character) and her two sisters are all played by the Haim sisters, known for their collaborations with Taylor Swift.

Overall, I don’t know that I would strongly recommend this movie to anyone, but I don’t regret my time watching it. I liked it, but I think it takes an acquired taste because my fellow movie goers were not fans of the production. Finally, it must be noted that neither licorice nor pizza is ever mentioned throughout the entire film, so the title itself does not mesh well with the plot. Some have said the name was taken from a record store open in the 60s and 70s, which is the time period the movie is set in, but it still seems like a more genuine title could have been selected.