• James Rutherford

'Licorice Pizza': A Radiant Tale of Burgeoning Young Love in 1970's-Era San Fernando Valley


Movie poster for the 2021 film Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza (2021) is a radiant coming-of-age comedy-drama starring Cooper Hoffman as fifteen-year-old Gary Valentine, a loquacious young denizen of the San Fernando Valley circa 1973. After a chance encounter with twenty-five-year-old photographer's assistant Alana Kane (Alana Haim), Gary is convinced he has found the love of his life.


Dedicating himself to his pursuit of Alana while developing a complex friendship with the acerbic older woman, Gary pines for her attention while seeking to impress her with his professional accomplishments. A part-time actor and burgeoning entrepreneur, Gary ultimately hatches a business plan as purveyor of waterbeds—with Alana on board as his sales and installation assistant. Their subsequent venture provides great humor amidst their misadventures, as the two grow close despite Alana's reluctance due to their marked age difference.


Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood), Licorice Pizza is a wonderfully digressive, loosely amalgamated series of vignettes and interludes—Anderson returning to his own roots in The San Fernando Valley. Brimming with off-center sensibilities and a unique ensemble of characters and characterizations, Anderson has fashioned a vibrant mosaic out of the complexities of young love in an era of modern antiquity.

 

Watch the trailer: