Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★★★½

They're all shits, aren't they?

My one hot take about this film: I like the name Soggy Bottom more than the title it ended up getting. I wish it was still called that, as although it sounds unappetizing at first, when you actually see the movie, it makes complete sense and is even a little sweet to me. Also, I guess since we're on the topic of "things that sound unappetizing at first," I'll address the elephant in the room that's coming around to stomp in here and there when this movie gets brought up: I don't mind the age gap between Hoffman and Haim. One of the most fascinating things Licorice Pizza has going on with it is how nuanced yet I'm certain universally relatable the relationship between Gary and Alana is in the film. (We are of course in the era where information online is most commonly spread through messages that require limits and retweets to be cared about, so "nuance" is going to go out the window sometimes.) What's so fundamentally great about Paul Thomas Anderson's film is that it understands that when you are in your youth, you're one of two things: You're either the babysitter, or you're the kid who had the crush on the babysitter. It's either Alana or Gary you're going to gravitate towards, and of course I connected with Gary, and I overall just found this to be a very lovely and very funny coming of age story. Both Hoffman and Haim are great, I would love to see either of them get awards buzz, but I also want to shine a light on how good the various side performances and little cameos are. My favorite of the bunch here is Bradley Cooper as Jon Peters. For those who are geeky enough in the same way I am, yes, this is that Jon Peters who had an outright obsession with getting a giant spider into the 90's blockbusters he produced in that era, eventually getting his wish in Wild Wild West. If that sounded like complete nonsense before, watch how he's portrayed in this, and everything is just going to click into place. Cooper gives a capital "M" and "S" Movie Star performance here, and despite how little screen time he has (Doesn't even appear until two thirds into the film at that.) I would with zero hesitation nominate him for an Oscar here. This film looks great, I love the driving down the sunny street soundtrack, the costumes and hair are a delight, and it's all just filled to the brim with these little moments of awkwardness and openness that's rare to see in any film made by anyone. Look, when you're a kid who thinks he's hot shit and is just going through the motions of love and connecting with others, you're going to have your crush with the older girl. It's fine. Who knows, maybe it could have been reciprocated, but probably not. The dangling over your head "What if?" sensation of connections and faint smiles, that is Licorice Pizza in quick summary, and I cannot recommend it enough. Fell right under its spell, and I look forward to it getting rave reviews from all of the correct and very attractive appreciators of film.

9/10

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