Licorice Pizza on Amazon Prime Video, Paul Thomas Andersons Ode to Verboten Love (and Early 70s Los Angeles)

Licorice Pizza on Amazon Prime Video, Paul Thomas Andersons Ode to Verboten Love (and Early 70s Los  ...

Licorice Pizza is Paul Thomas Anderson's latest ambitious film, a period comedy set in SoCal that runs along steep urban sidewalks and tumbles dangerously down steep hills. Youll be surprised to learn its catnip for critics, who continue to anoint Anderson as the next Robert Altman.


Alana (Alana Haim) and Gary (Cooper Hoffman) are in love. Theyre nothing like life like memories. Nostalgic memories. He is ambitious, uncertain, prickly, bold, funny. Hes 25, shes 15, shes 14. I believe they're in love, but, oof. They're not. Magnets. What are they?

Gary told her that he would be at Tail o the Cock that night. She turns up. Beams like his mom's 68 GTO convertible? That's not a date, she says, sensibly and vehemently. He's a kid actor who's been on Merv Griffin three times. Oh, and he's got his own PR company.

Alana becomes the chaperone on a TV appearance in New York to promote a film about the ridiculously huge family, for one thing or another. Gary is shocked because his crush crushes on a guy who is, yknow, legal. Or maybe she's not putting herself up for Gary, and she's just expressing her desire to be available.

Alana makes a lot better by not just assisting him in any way, but also in whole chunks of the film with him, where he starts a waterbed business and tries to sell them at the local Teen-age Fair, and where she forms a relationship with him. You wonder if she wishes the answer was YES. Two, he's 15 and she's 25.

What Films Will It Remind You Of?: This is Paul Thomas Anderson's American Graffiti, except he was three in 1973, so its not an airtight analogy. It has similar vibes to Linklaters Dazed and Confused and (the criminally underrated) Everybody Wants Some!!!

Alana Haim is a sparkplug (who was slapped out of an Oscar nomination, if you want to grind that axe) who gives a performance that you're certain no one else will provide. Hoffman is also a wonder, and their chemistry is the vital, bloody, beating heart of this film.

Alana and Lance's Dissolution: A Memorable Dialogue

Alana: What is the appearance of your penis?

What is Lance's answer?

Alana: What is the appearance of your penis?

Lance: I guess it's like a regular penis.

Skin and Sex: None. She doesn't see his penis, that's why she has to ask.

The gist of this article, the references by famous people, and the city's weirdness, is left to us, the audience. Is that a good way to describe it?

Bradley Cooper tears it up as Barbra Streisands boyfriend, a coked-up maniac who wants to ruin or retaliate with everything he sees. It leads to the film's greatest sequence of 2022, set in the heat of the energy crisis, when Alana pilots an ancient god-knows-how-many-ton truck that is roaring down the Hollywood hills, out of gas. The quick and the furious can eat her fing DUST.

Licorice Pizza is a giddy and freewheeling love story, tangled and winding through all the craziness, but never to the level of absurdity its tension is rendered taunt in all the right ways. Haims' knotty characterization, her line-reading, like bottle rockets aimed right for your eye

Licorice Pizza may seem like someone else's nostalgia, but when you get immersed in its immediacy and authenticity, it's enticing. While Anderson's talent for this sort of lengthy narrative may be superficial, it's nonetheless striking. Alana and Gary are on the verge of becoming the sunnier end of that.

STREAM IT. Like few other films, Licorice Pizza is a captivating, enthralling, and roughhousing experience.

Will you be able to watch or skip Paul Thomas Anderson's #LicoricePizza from the 1970s Los Angeles classic on VOD? #SIOSI

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can see more of his work at

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