Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★★★★

“What does your penis look like? What does your penis look like? Is it circumcised? Then you’re a FUCKING JEW!!!” 

Licorice Pizza (2021) is Paul Thomas Anderson’s most personal, charming, passionate, and endearing film to date. It’s almost like an auteur’s perfectly crafted version of Lady Bird (2017). Not to say that was a poorly made film at all, it’s just that this film feels like a perfected version of it. It also sort of feels like a perfection of a lot of PTA’s older works such as Boogie Nights (1997). And boy did it live to the hype and expectations. It’s everything I wanted it to be and more. There’s just so much authenticity and personality behind all of his works, and Licorice Pizza (2021) is no different.

This movie is fucking hilarious, it does have drama within it but I’d go as far as to say that this is PTA’s first ever full blown comedy. I laughed so hard in the theater, I’d even say its one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s like a hangout movie almost. I’d liken it to films like Dazed and Confused (1993) and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019). It flows by with perfect pacing, it’s very relaxed and chilled. As a lot of my followers probably know, I absolutely love slice of life stories that are very nuanced, have immensely well done characters, and don’t really have an A to B plot necessarily, and this movie is definitely one of those.

In textbook Paul Thomas Anderson format, this film is an examination of toxicity (toxic masculinity in this case) and dysfunction in relationships. PTA does this in a lot of his films. So please don’t go into this film falling for the misguided criticisms that some are throwing out that this film is glorifying or elevating this kind of relationship. I don’t know how many times this needs to be said, but character actions in a story does not mean the writer is glorifying or condoning the character’s behavior or actions. These kinds of criticisms were levied against films like The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019), and now they’re doing the same with this film. 

One factor I feel like a lot of people forget with films like this (as well as the other two I just listed) is that these films are period pieces. So characters in these settings aren’t going to necessarily behave in a way that would be deemed acceptable in 2021. And the only way to create an authentic period piece is if it’s told and shown through the lens of that time period. If filmmakers didn’t do that, then we wouldn’t have excellent period piece commentaries like Judas and the Black Messiah (2021). What a lot of people fail to realize that filmmakers are showcasing these unacceptable and deplorable behaviors from the past as a way of criticizing those behaviors. The three previous examples I listed did that, and this film is no different. Apologies for the rant, I just don’t want anyone to go into this film with the misconceptions and misinterpretations that are being perpetuated by some critics and audience members.


This movie is filled with incredible, nuanced performances. Especially Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman. This is both of their first time acting performances in a movie, and it really doesn’t feel like it. They are so damn good in this movie that it feels like they’ve been at this job for years, even decades already. And it’s not just them, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie, they’re all great. But Alana Haim is the one who absolutely steals the show, she absolutely needs to win Best Actress this year at all the award shows.

And holy shit man, this is Jonny Greenwood’s year. He’s done the score for Licorice Pizza, Spencer, and The Power of the Dog all within the same year. That’s absolutely insane. Me personally I’d say Spencer still takes the title for best score of the year, but Licorice Pizza still has great music. It’s just so upbeat, light, and full of joy and wonder. It really fits very well for a coming-of-age story.

Licorice Pizza (2021) has stolen the crown as my favorite movie of the year so far. It may not be the most dramatic or emotional, but the writing and the craft on display is just so damn immaculate. Paul Thomas Anderson’s full unbridled vision is on display. Uncompromised, unaltered, genuine, sweet, honest, and no one could’ve made this other than him.

I genuinely hope that Paul Thomas Anderson wins for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars this year. And he absolutely deserves a win for Best Director, especially given how perfectly crafted this film is, but it’s also just really long overdue at this point. This movie shows once again why Paul Thomas Anderson remains my second favorite filmmaker of all time to this day.

And after watching this film I still have no idea why it is called Licorice Pizza, lol. So I looked it up and apparently it’s the name of a record store in the Valley from the 70s, but the store itself is not actually in the film. But then I found this quote from Paul Thomas Anderson, “After many months of banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what to name this film, I concluded that these two words shoved together reminded me the most of my childhood.” That is so unironically based, I can’t even handle it lol.

Martin Scorsese certainly would call this “cinema”. This film absolutely satisfied the cinephile inside of me, and beyond that I just had a big ole smile on my face for the entire runtime. What a magical experience. *chefs kiss* What a picture.

Rest In Peace to one of the greatest actors of our time, Philip Seymour Hoffman! ✌🏻💜☮️

“I’m not going to forget you. Just like you’re not going to forget me.”

2021 Movies Ranked (So Far)
Paul Thomas Anderson Films Ranked

Block or Report

Grant liked these reviews