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Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Licorice Pizza drags in places, indulges in star cameos and hasn’t got the most engaging of stories, but it’s never not entertaining.

After spending a decade chasing Kubrick with expertly crafted but often cold and calculated films director Paul Thomas Anderson is in a much more free-flowing, nostalgic mode in Licorice Pizza. Whether that's a good thing, is up for debate however.

Chronicling the intertwining lives of an entrepreneurial teenage actor and a twenty-something girl yearning to escape in seventies California, Anderson gets the moods and sounds of the era spot-on, while coaxing excellent performances out of Cooper Hoffman and especially Alana Haim, who is radiant in her big-screen debut.

Alas this doesn't translate to a coherent, engaging overall story, especially in the second half of Licorice Pizza, which relies heavily on disposable anecdotes and distracting star cameos, with scenes that fail to deepen the central relationship between Hoffman and Haim.

To be fair, Licorice Pizza is never not entertaining, but there's no denying it drags in places, it frustratingly meanders when it should be upping the pace and it fails to generate much genuine enthusiasm for the inevitable happy ending.

release: 2021

director: Paul Thomas Anderson

starring: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits


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