I really didn’t know what to expect going in to see Licorice Pizza, the new Paul Thomas Anderson film. All I knew was that it was a coming of age film. I certainly was not expecting it to be one of the best films of the year…. but surprise, it most certainly is! This is one of those films that reminds you of the magic that can be attained when true artists are at the helm. Paul Thomas Anderson has wrote a fantastic script that manages to be both charming and wickedly funny. The cast that is assembled to breathe life into this script is super talented and makes it all seem effortless.
I cannot rave about this script enough! There is a sweet charming nature that is draped over the whole thing. Licorice Pizza could have easily been boring and uninteresting due to its simplicity, but Anderson is able to make ever minute engrossing. This just goes to show you that the simplest of plots can be just as entertaining and successful as the more flashy convoluted ones.
The sweetness and the R rated comedy mix together surprisingly well. Sometimes when crass humor is handled inappropriately it can shatter any chances of maintaining a charming appealing tone, but not here. There are a lot of laughs to be had throughout Licorice Pizza. A lot of the humor is of a dry somewhat awkward nature and I really love that brand of comedy.
Alana Haim gets a lot of the comedic material and boy does she know just how to deliver it! There’s a toughness to her that makes her scenes even funnier and all the while, she never loses her charm or likability. Bradley Cooper is also very funny as the ridiculously over the top Jon Peters. He isn’t in the film very much but he takes advantage of the small amount of time he does have.
The cast members are just so multitalented and effective. Alana Haim is funny yes, but she’s also so lovely. You can’t help but love and feel for her character in this. Her connection to Cooper Hoffman is very strong and is ultimately the beating heart of the whole thing.
Hoffman, who is the son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is magnificent in this. He is both adorable and mature at the same time which is an impressive line to toe. Both of these actors are going places and they both deserve Academy Award nominations. (While I’m on the Oscars, the screenplay also deserves an Academy Award nomination.)
And I would be remiss to move on from the cast without praising Skyler Gisondo. I’ve seen Gisondo in other films and have liked him but I saw a certain maturity in him here that hasn’t been present in the past. He does a very nice job and I hope he gets some leading man work off of this.
The costume design and visuals in general are spot on and really immerse in the 1970s time period. Haim’s outfits are particularly well put together. Another detail that reminds you of when this film takes place is the fact that there’s a minor character who is gay and must hide his relationship with his boyfriend. I love that this was included and I love that it was handled with care. I always appreciate it when a period piece has enough love in it to highlight the struggles and inequality of marginalized communities.
To be honest, I only encountered a minor negative within this exceptional film. The underuse of Sean Penn Maya Rudolph. Their parts are really tiny and while it doesn’t do any real harm, I always want more for such fine actors. I wondered why they were in it since they have such little to do but maybe they just wanted to be apart of one of the best films of 2021.
Licorice Pizza is a film that deserves appreciation and praise. This is undoubtedly one of the best films in recent years and I hope it gets proper attention.
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