Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★½

i think i was giving this the benefit of the doubt after my first watch. the push/pull of greg and alana’s relationship just always felt….off to me. there were times i thought the movie wanted to say something about gary’s trajectory to becoming one of the slimy men sprinkled throughout the film’s subplots, but as far as i can tell he doesn’t have any self-awareness or exhibit any growth by the end at all. alana occasionally gets fed up with stagnating and attempts to “make something out of her life,” but ends up returning to the comfort of gary when men in sheep’s clothing inevitably disappoint her. but what makes gary so different? he’s a huckster just like the rest of them. gary practically weaponizes his natural charm to break down alana’s misgivings about spending time with him, and then proceeds to routinely discard her affection at random for the entire film. he convinces her to wear a bikini at the grand opening of the waterbed store. he’s delighted and asks her if she’s happy. “if you’re happy, i’m happy!” he spends the rest of the night humiliating her by pursuing someone else. she comes back for more.

i’m as surprised as i am disappointed by my reaction to the film, maybe my most anticipated of 2021. i’ll be revisiting it again soon, desperately looking for something buried in the film that i missed, but i’ve got the sinking feeling the only thing underneath is a soggy bottom.

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