Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s films are not where you look for a wealth of young love sweet stories. Instead, where you have rainy frogs and the hefty Tom Cruise (“Magnolia”), the gruesome Daniel Day-Louis is best suited to run your milkshake (“There’ll Be Blood”) or hinged Adam. Sandler (“Punch-Drunk Love”).
It is intended to stir up expectations, but Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” (Rated at four; R rated; Friday, December 25 in theaters in New York and LA, drowns in the sun), and the brilliant film of the 1970s – and the most mainstream project to date . The film introduces two exceptional heroes, Alana Haim (sister to the pop trio Haim) and Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Hollywood legend Phillip Seymour Hoffman), whose characters embody strange romance, colorful idiosyncrasies, and various acts in San Fernando Valley, California. An entertaining film like “American Graffiti” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” captures the youth in a hilarious and poignant manner.
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Encino Circa In 1973, Gary Valentine (Hoffman) was a 15-year-old young man waiting in line for a picture of his school when he hit 25-year-old photographer assistant Alana Kane (Hymn). He jokingly jokes, he is fascinated by her beauty and spirit, and despite her age difference, she is fascinated by this extraordinarily confident child and he becomes an up-and-coming child. “I met the girl I was going to marry,” Gary tells his little brother.
When his mother (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) is unable to take Gary to New York for the PR Blitz, he recruits Alana as his chaperone, the first of many episodes that binds the two but examines their birth and evolution. Alana becomes Gary’s partner when she starts her waterbird business with her teenage boyfriend, though jealousy raises their heads. They also face different stages of maturity: after a humorous incident involving a unmanaged moving truck, Alana wrestles with adult responsibility, especially against teenage shenanigans.
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The fact that Haim, 29, and Hoffman, 18, are not just outstanding but related strangers helps immensely to “pizza.” The audience sees these two flowers in front of our eyes, both endlessly engaged and if there is any justice, it is just the beginning for these talented newcomers.
Although Gary is this charming Peter Pan persona, the young woman trying to find her identity is a hymn spitfire like Alana. And Hoffman has the same soulful qualities as his father, combining flamboyant charm with a roller coaster of emotions that only comes from first love. The hormones run much between the film’s teen-filled landscape, though Alana and Gary’s relationship is more emotional than physical.
“Licorice Pizza” shares the same charm that Hollywood has with its characters. Bradley Cooper is a force of nature, heading to a blissfully eccentric twist to look like one of the Bee Gees as polyester-clad producer / hairdresser John Peters (aka Barbra Streisand’s then-boyfriend). And Sean Penn grants life to the famous actor Jack Holden (with the help of a mad old director played by Tom Waits), who is fascinated by Alana, who tries to recreate the fiery battle scene outside the bar. The family also plays the underlying theme: Haim’s real-life siblings and parents portray Alana’s loved ones, while lesser-known relatives of film and TV legends appear in supporting roles (be sure to check out credits for some recognizable last names); And The Munsters also find their way into the retro narrative.
Nowadays, as every movie breaks a two-hour run time, the film pulls in places and some tactile scenes don’t really add much to the plot, especially when Gary and a white restaurant (John Michael Higgins), a pair of serious savage characters, speak with an aggressive Japanese accent. It is wildly out of place amidst an otherwise appealing film. Anderson is good at weaving in politics without being heavy-handed and having a little fun with the gas crisis and exploring the deeper side of Alana.
With “Licorice Pizza”, Anderson offers a teeny warm tasty slice and two fresh-faced youngsters that will satisfy cinephrases for years to come.