Set in San Fernando, 1973, Licorice Pizza follows the life of two young people- Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), a celebrity superstar and Alana Kane (Alana Haim). Gary is convinced that Alana is the love of his life, but there is just one problem. His new crush is twenty-five years old, while Gary is only fifteen. Nevertheless, Gary builds up courage and decides to go for it, introducing himself to Alana, who is taking photographs for portraits at his school.
At first, Alana finds his approach laughable and even makes jokes about him being just a little boy, but his confidence wins, and the two meet for a friendly drink. A new friendship is developed. From this, viewers will witness the friendship the two share as they grow up, tackling worldly matters together and even creating new and exciting business ventures. Perhaps, in due time, the two may even develop a romance.
Licorice Pizza is a comedy with moments of drama and substantial amounts of romantic themes thrown into the mix. Our two leading characters are both equally likeable, charming, witty, and fun to watch, and full credit goes to the actors themselves for delivering such wonderful lines of dialogue and bringing what feels like a real genuine friendship and connection to the screen.
Like films such as Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Licorice Pizza’s settings and surroundings feel real. I honestly felt like I was transported back to another time and place, something that I truly loved experiencing. Elements such as costumes, backgrounds, locations and even the excellent soundtrack were all refreshing as they added to a fun cinematic experience.
The plot is fun and pleasing, and we witness various moments in time where Gary and Alana are either interacting with each other or trying to make it on their own. One constant is how Gary and Alana always seem to find themselves bumping into each other while moving forward in life. Along the way, the film also introduces many fun characters played by well-known actors, including Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, John Michael Higgins, Maya Rudolph and many more. Granted, most of these cameos are brief, but still, most of them provide a great element of both surprise and entertainment, especially actor Bradley Cooper who, for me, stole the film when he appeared.
Overall, director Paul Thomas Anderson delivers a new kind of film, and he seems quite pleased and confident behind the camera for this one. I found this film fun, dramatic and filled with heartfelt yet touching moments along the way. Our leads are fantastic and deliver a realistic performance with well delivered and believable dialogue. The supporting cast is also a blast (especially Bradley Cooper), and elements such as costumes, filming locations, and a tremendous soundtrack will take movie buffs back in time. With all of these positive results combined, Licorice Pizza is simply a feel-good movie that I was glad to experience in Cinema, and I look forward to rewatching it again soon.