LICORICE PIZZA (2021)
A snapshot of burgeoning young love in 1970s San Fernando Valley, Licorice Pizza is inconsistent in delivery due to a lackluster main plot and many scene misfires that do little to stir any emotions.
In Licorice Pizza, Alana (Alana Haim) and Gary (Cooper Hoffman) explore a young love in Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest. A simple premise leads to a simple movie, one would think, but the strange inclusion of subplots that distract from the overall character development leads to what feels like a hodgepodge of nostalgic experiences attempting to be rolled into one. Haim and Cooper are solid with what they’re given to work with, but their connection is nothing more than an obsessed high schooler fawning after an older woman. Why this story is unique or different is beyond me; it’s been told numerous times. The true strength of Licorice Pizza is in the fun cameos from a number of stars including Bradley Cooper, Maya Rudolph, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Sean Penn, and more. Each, however, are used scarcely.
Paul Thomas Anderson certainly has a way of capturing a moment, of bringing audiences into an environment they may otherwise be unfamiliar with or, on the flip side, may have experienced themselves. Sometimes, however, I question the intent as the delivery can come across uninteresting and without direction. Such is the case here with Licorice Pizza. A lazy, sporadic script leads to a mediocre film that is ripe with boring stretches and without purpose. If Licorice Pizza was a work meeting, it could have been an email.
Licorice Pizza is now playing in limited theaters and expands nationally on Christmas Day.
Photo from The New Yorker