Tim Daugherty’s review published on Letterboxd:
Most coming-of-age romantic comedies represent what I want to believe my teen years to be. Meeting a cute girl then quickly overcoming minor obstacles on our way to the prom* for a magical evening. The next day we announce our relationship to the world as “Boyfriend & Girlfriend” and all is warm n' fuzzy...[Fade to Black]...Which is about as accurate as that time I rode my Fire-Breathing Dragon into campus to strike down my enemies.
Despite not being much like Gary or Alana as individuals, collectively Licorice Pizza comes as close to nailing my relationship experience of being 16-26 as anything I’ve seen. A meandering purgatory of connections, friends, confusion and awkwardness. I like her….she just wants to be friends. She likes me…I just want to be friends. Always in the game, but stuck at bat - perpetually a full count as I hack balls into the crowd to stay alive for another pitch. And that’s the emotional vibe PTA nails here. There's tension in the muddled middle.
Gary and Alana aren’t lonely people, or fulfilled. They don’t look like celebrities. OMG Joseph Gordon Levitt has a crush on Zooey Deshanel!!! Thank god Minka Kelly is waiting in the wings in case that doesn't pan out. My youth says “Go Fuck Yourself”**.
Superficially there’s a narrative beginning and end to this love story, but is there really? Gary and Alana were always working angles and alternatives. Plan B’s constantly in play. Take a swing, or hope you get Ball 4 and a walk? The love game is chaos.
*For the record: I hate dancing, dances and proms. It’s a metaphor for whatever.
** For the record 2: I really like (500) Days of Summer, but it’s fairy tale nonsense