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  • Writer's pictureStrictly Films

Licorice Pizza; Grade: B+

Licorice Pizza tells a story of a child actor Gary (Cooper Hoffman) getting acquainted with Alana (Alana Haim) whom works in the photo studio who takes headshots made for actors like Gary. Gary despite being fifteen going on sixteen, is attracted to Alana whom is a decade older than him, however he continues to flirt as he hopes someday they can be more than friends. Alana though she turns down Gary countless amount of times, she’s however fond of Gary more towards his personality. Alana and Gary we’ll establish a friendship in which will have many highs that’ll consist of many adventures, along with some lows that can be described as being in a dysfunctional relationship despite they aren’t in one.

The selling point for Licorice Pizza has to be poster designs: I love the old school photograph of Alana and Gary, it’s simply done but how it’s designed is reminiscent to the 70’s as I have to run immediately to the theater just by looking at the poster. Plus the other poster consisting of a hand drawn portrait of Alana holding Gary… I need to have this as a t-shirt, it’s perhaps the coolest design I’ve seen in a long time, I love the retro look of it all. It’s extremely hard not to be a Paul Thomas Anderson fan, I mean the man has made many gems in the past, few favorites of mine include Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will be Blood. I feel Licorice Pizza will soon improve upon rewatches… I thought this was one of the coolest films I’ve seen all year long.

Visually it’s stunning, definitely fits the time period of this film wonderfully, along with some great set designs. Just the way the TV set looks, Gary’s businesses, the streets of California, the cars, the water beds… Man it’s so freaking cool to look at. The Score was pretty good as well, I enjoyed the classical older tunes followed by a very mellow upbeat composed score. The cast all in all was terrific, Anderson really brought in a fun groovy cool group here.

Cooper Hoffman whom happens to be Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son R.I.P, in his feature debut I thought he was awesome. Cooper delivers the charisma this character has to have, as a charming young man whom is a bit of a flirt, is ambitious with not only women but more so with business, and also can have a sensitive side as well. I enjoyed the character Gary a lot, he’s a very cool energetic dude who does every now and then have a heart, as he’s more human than you think. He reminded a lot of myself when I was younger… Unlike Gary I was a bit more obnoxious.

Alana Haim playing Alana delivered a great performance as well, I believe this is her feature debut as well as man she’s a great talent indeed. Enjoyed her wide variety in displaying many emotions, also felt she delivered big time in her comedic chops as well, her chemistry with Cooper was outstanding as they were awesome together. I enjoyed the character of Alana, not quite established as a person yet as she’s still trying to figure herself out in going into areas such as business, show business, or even politics. You could also say while attending to all these areas, she’s also trying to get more acquainted with people her age rather than hanging with teenagers as well… It’s a process with Alana, but like most adults whom haven’t necessarily lost their teenage spirit, sometimes we stay in that lane for awhile as we can’t quite connect with grown ups yet.

There was some surprisingly delightful supporting performances. Sean Penn for the short time being was entertaining in his performance, followed by Bradley Cooper whom went bat shit crazy in his role, Benny Safdie was solid in his performance, and man oh man John Michael Higgins… He’s got one of the best comedic parts in the entire film!

The story of Licorice Pizza can be described as a story in which I’m surprised it’s made in 2021. Considering the age gap between the two main characters: I can see a handful of people whining about this. I mean we’re no longer in 1979 where Woody Allen’s Manhattan is heavily loved and even went on to win Best Picture, yet when the film is brought up today people complain about it.

The thing with this story and the age gap is people have to consider this: Life was operated a lot different in this time period, than it is today. The thing people need to understand is in movies like this… You’re going to have to be accurate with the time period you’re telling your story. Like you can not make a film like this and tell the story on how what is “acceptable” in 2021, that’s not how it works. In this time period, I can rest assure that no one cared about age gaps… Relationships like this were a lot more common than you think. Does that mean it was ok? In some cases no and in some cases as long as the relationship in respected and that is completely mutual.. Not really our business. But people need to shut the hell up on claiming this film is “problematic” it’s actually not at all, the only thing problematic is you not getting your head out of your ass… I’m sorry I can’t stand these people, who have no idea how to critique movies, they’re the worst.

Now where the hell was I?! Ah yes: I really enjoyed the story of Licorice Pizza. Not only is it a thoroughly entertaining film that feels like a series of adventures, but tells two unique tales on both characters. It almost as it feels like it’s a complication of growing up, whether it be not fulfilling establishing yourself or getting caught up on maturity to where you lose your true genuine self as a whole. I feel with age: We need to take all the time we need and thoroughly enjoy our youth while we can. Within the two characters: It truly played out as a dysfunctional relationship, that it feels very similar to one of my crushes back in junior year. Like you see the envy and jealousy each character gets, despite not even being together?! Or the unnecessary confrontation of one being in a good position and not being happy for them?! It’s so strange how there are many friendships like this, where one doesn’t want to be in relationship, however becomes petty in certain situations in your life.

The comedy material in this film was pretty good, there is some bold choices within the comedy however it’s paid off big time as it brought some of the best laughs I’ve had all year long. The film is most certainly entertaining, I just enjoy not only the nostalgia of it all, but the flat out fun people used to have back in these days. Like it’s one big gigantic adventure done in one whole story, I enjoyed all these characters on screen as they all were such a ball together.

I guess my flaws would be some areas drag here and there, I felt the conclusion of this film though it’s a satisfying ending, can however feel a little underwhelming how it was developed to get to this point. Still I think with rewatches: This film is going to improve with me, it’s such a blast from start to finish, can easily be a classic.

Overall, Licorice Pizza was a pretty damn good film. I highly recommend checking this one out, must see in a theater for sure, I had a blast. -Mitch Smietana

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