San Fernando Valley, 1973. 25-year-old photographer’s assistant Alana Kane (Alaina Haim) reluctantly goes out for a drink with 15-year-old child actor Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), her unexpected admirer. As one thing leads to another, they embark on an ambitious business venture, while attempting to palnt their feet and purpose in a crazy world while navigating the treacherous mindfield of first love .
Licorice Pizza is zanny, comedic and a whirlwind of a ride. I’ve been engaged – ALOT. But, one guy who proposed was younger. To be exact, he literally was the same age as my little brother and the pursuit of me was relentless. Eventually, I gave in, because at the end of the day, I was able to see myself through his eyes and it felt kinda cool. He wasn’t my first love and he definitely isn’t my last, but that dude taught me some things about myself, men and relationships from a perspective I never saw coming. I guess you could say we were kind of the caramel version of Alana and Gary…lol.
Some of the situations Alana and Gary become entangled with are bananas and it is exasperated by those navigating in and around the drama like Jon Peters as portrayed by Bradley Cooper. Or, that heart stopping getaway ride as Alana drives backwards down the Hollywood Hills in a truck. That shenanigan had me holding my breath and howling out loud when it was over!
You gotta give it to Paul Thomas Anderson though. He gave me a film that took me back to the 90’s with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – but with an edge. An edge that flagrantly and unapologetically displays ridiculous stereotypical moments and characters like the white owner of a Japanese restaurant who speaks in broken English or Alana parading around in with nipples at attention and in a bikini when everyone else is dressed. Regardless, I laughed and was entertained mostly through the nostalgia of waterbeds and insane cameos from stars like Sean Penn.
In the end, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza is a golden, shimmery, crazy coming of age flick that makes you long for 70’s California and the free-spirited energy that came with it.