Licorice Pizza Is A Loving And Nostalgic Look At The 70s

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