Film Review – Licorice Pizza (2021)

Full tilt boogie, unorthodox sprawling dramatic romance, full of cinematic lush visuals of a retro Los Angeles and youth in the valley also explored, with an interesting threat of suspense or discomfort amongst constant eye-opening zaniness.

Extolled director Paul Thomas Anderson, as he has done before in previous endeavours, will ruffle feathers through his multiple story threads alongside an array of dazzling characters mostly all part of the lead duo’s misadventures.

When Gary (Copper Hoffman) met Alana (Alana Haim), he instantly announces that this is the girl he wants to be with forever.

Ten-year age difference aside, the relationship has varying stages.

From business partner and friendship to close adversaries, however as long as Gary thinks there’s a sexual chance, his high ambitions stay alive.

It turns out Alana concentrates on career opportunity as opposed to passion and is willing to follow or assist Gary with his constantly outrageous plans.

A star is born with potential Oscar nominee, musician, fashionista, Alana Haim, her persistent at times cynical interactions with almost everybody is an unforgettably singular beaming brilliance. Wow!

Son of late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, lookalike Cooper is also in control of capturing your attention at every curve.

There’s a lot of unexpected surprises by an ensemble involved who contribute in small parts to this obscure time capsule including, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie, Tom Waits and Ridgemont High student Jeff Spicoli himself…..Sean Penn, as an equally off beat character Jack Holden.

Blink and you may miss tremendous Emily Althaus, an intrepid actor who always brightens’ up the screen.

The term Licorice Pizza is unusual slang for vinyl records, whilst also referencing a once popular now defunct LA music store.

Not perfect, lethargic details considerably slow proceedings and there’re infrequent, uncomfortable elements.

An appropriate soundtrack, inspiring crisp cinematography and relentless top-notch performances all play their role.

Not quite up there with my all-time favourite PTA opus, Magnolia (1999) just like that epic, audiences may be divided here too.


Comedy, Drama | USA, 2021 | 15 | 1st January 2022 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.Paul Thomas Anderson | Cooper Hoffman, Alana Haim, Skyler Gisondo, Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper, Bennie Safdie, Tom Waits

Follow Shane A.Bassett on Twitter @Movie_Analyst