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Licorice Pizza – Movie Review: Why the hell was this made?

Let me say right off the top, I hated this movie. Not because it was poorly made but because it is poorly conceived. The premise of Licorice Pizza is absurd and creepy. It’s a coming “of age” romantic comedy in which a 15-year old boy and a 25-year old grown ass woman fall in love. The entire experience of the film was uncomfortable, the movie doesn’t view the age gap critically in any way whatsoever, and the age gap does nothing to change the story or the message of the film. It’s exactly the same movie if the boy is 20 instead of 15. There is no discernible reason for this film to exist and I’m honestly startled and confused by the positive reception it has gotten. I’ve seen it called a masterpiece and one of the best movies of the year by other critics, it’s gotten a ton of awards nominations and will probably get several more at the Oscars. The only response to Licorice Pizza’s acclaim I’ve been able to muster to this point is “…HOW???”

Typically I give movies a letter grade A+ through F, but it’s hard to do that for this film. I write all of my reviews trying to answer the question “is this worth people going to see in a movie theater?” but my own disgust with this movie seems so far detached from other people’s actual experience seeing it that I don’t know how to answer that either. How do you grade an assignment that you believe shouldn’t even exist but everyone else seems to think is the best thing ever? I don’t know. But they haven’t taken away my WordPress log in yet so I get to write all my thoughts out anyway. Let’s chat, weirdos.

So, why the hell are people excited about this movie?

If you’ve been to the movie theater at just about any point in the last 3 months, you’ve probably seen the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film Licorice Pizza. I’m at the movies a lot, and I’ve seen that trailer no less than 20 times. The 2-minute teaser is somewhat compelling but not in any particularly original or distinctive way. David Bowie’s Life on Mars builds in the background as you see a rather generic looking boy, Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman), and a generic but better looking girl, Alana Haim of the band Haim, flirting with each other. The music stops and Bradley Cooper (the GAWD) pops on screen. Then the music resumes and you see more bland coming of age romantic comedy bits including Haim saying “do you really want to see my boobs?” and then slapping the boy when he asks to touch them. All of it tells you very little about what makes this movie different from any other movie like it. The only distinguishing thing about it being that it’s written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and the cast features big names. Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Benny Safdie and Maya Rudolph all appear.

Since the 1990s PTA has put out a slew of acclaimed films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Master and Phantom Thread. Anderson has 8 Oscar nominations so far including directing 2 Best Picture nominees. Additionally, there have been 9 acting performances in PTA films nominated. And with the glowing reception of Licorice Pizza there’s likely to be at least a couple more nominations added to that list. And even though Paul Thomas Anderson has never made a blockbuster hit at the box office, he’s built up a dedicated cult following amongst some movie nerds (not me though, I don’t really stan for any Directors).

All of this context is important for Licorice Pizza. Most people have no clue what it’s about. But Paul Thomas Anderson made it, there’s actors in it they want to see, and it’s been getting rave reviews. So the hype is insane. I went to an advanced screening of the movie here in Houston, the only showing of the movie here before it officially releases nationwide on Christmas Eve, and the theater was packed wall to wall. People were literally sitting on the floor in the aisles down front.

Why the hell did Paul Thomas Anderson make this movie?

I sat in the theater extremely uncomfortable throughout the film. Parts of it were very funny and entertaining, until you remember that what you’re watching is a crime against a minor played like it’s some sort of inspiring love story. The movie itself is hardly skeptical about the situation at all. Alana, the 25-year old female lead who should soon be a registered sex offender, mentions a couple times that it’s “weird” that she hangs out with a 15-year old and his friends all the time, but that never stops her from doing it. Obviously the 15-year old – again, 3 years away from being old enough to legally consent – is all-in on the romance. There’s no outside pressure on the “couple” from reasonable people for them to go their separate ways or for Alana to go to prison. Everyone who knows about their “relationship” is fully in support. The movie ends with what is supposed to be a happy, triumphant moment where they live happily ever after. I kept waiting and waiting for the moment someone, ANYONE other than me realized this was fucking awful. But that moment never came. The movie ends on a “good for them!” moment. I was disgusted when the credits rolled and had to immediately ask the @1TakePod group chat “why the hell does that movie exist???”

So why did PTA make this movie? What was the reason that he decided it was a good idea to make a movie about statutory rape that treats this sexual predation like it’s some neat and cool part of being a kid and growing up? I looked it up after I saw the movie. Apparently the official answer is that back in 2001, Paul Thomas Anderson walked past a middle school on picture day where he saw a kid pestering one of the female photographers. The gears in a very twisted mind began to turn and PTA imagined the young boy he just saw having a relationship with that adult woman. PTA over time added some stories he had heard from a friend who was a former child actor and that’s how Licorice Pizza came in to being. I should have known about this weird shit before seeing the movie. That’s on me.

Why the hell do people like this movie so much?

Like I mentioned at the top, nothing that is entertaining or worthwhile about this movie changes in any way if this is a legal relationship between a 20-year old and a 25-year old. Hell, this could be two people who are the same age and it’s the same movie. But I’m not sure if that’d actually be a good movie.

Nearly everything that’s funny, and as uncomfortable as it was parts of it are undeniably hilarious, has nothing to do with the age gap and very little to do with the main plot. Bradley Cooper’s bit role as Jon Peters is the best part of the film and it has almost nothing to do with advancing the story. There’s a bunch of subplots where Gary starts a waterbed business and a pinball arcade, they help do PR for a Japanese restaurant owned by John Michael Higgins, they help out on a Mayoral campaign for Benny Safdie, they’re at a bar where Sean Penn does a motorcycle stunt, etc. Some work better than others. But all these vignettes are discarded immediately once they’re over. We just focus on the next random thing this sex offender and her victim are doing.

To the film’s credit, the performances are good. Alana Haim is a revelation. She’s definitely got a future as an actor as she nailed both the comedy and the drama this role required. Cooper Hoffman is good as well but Bradley Cooper steals the show in his all too brief time on screen. I’d rather watch a Jon Peters movie starring him, honestly. Everyone else involved gives solid to great performances as well. The cinematography looks incredible, perfectly evoking the feeling of 1970s California. Parts of the script had everyone in my theater howling because the movie is very funny. Critics who love this film cite that humor, PTA’s directing, the performances, and the nostalgia. Stans are calling Licorice Pizza one of his best films (I wouldn’t know).

But for me, that’s not nearly enough to make the movie actually good. Things just *happen* in this movie with no rhyme or reason. It’s a compilation of stories that are only tangentially related to the sex crime happening at the center of the movie, and they all mean absolutely nothing. The movie isn’t teaching anything about the human condition or love or the pitfalls of life as an aspiring actor or anything like that. You’re just watching a 25-year old and a 15-year old fall in love with each other and crack jokes along the way. Sex crimes and vibes. Apparently for a lot of people who work as film critics (92% of 119 critics on Rotten Tomatoes so far) that’s enough to make a great movie.

But I’m still here wondering why the hell we did any of this.

Grade: D

For more reviews and other things, you can follow me on Twitter @DexAintDead and you can follow Apollo Media’s movie podcast @1TakePod and listen wherever you get your podcasts. Checkout my review of TAR if you want to hear me talk about a movie I actually like!

Thanks for reading and as always, #SupportFlorencePugh



  1. Paul Winston

    December 19, 2021 at 1:24 am

    If you can write and direct a better film, have at it. Criticism is easy for the marginally talented. P.T Anderson is an amazingly talented filmmaker, while you are parasite who wouldn’t exist without other people’s work as a host body.

    • Jane Somerville

      December 29, 2021 at 7:52 pm

      I just walked out of the movie today. I too, wondered why this movie was made? Stupid, contrived, Cooper Hoffman isn’t the actor his father was.. Just dumb!

      • Scott M Heiden

        January 28, 2022 at 6:49 pm

        I wanted to Walk out too. Uncomfortable and the scenes dragged on! Huge disappointment

      • Susan Panebianco

        February 12, 2022 at 12:18 pm

        Totally did the same after almost an hour in we couldn’t take it anymore. We got up and walked out. To us characters weren’t like able . And lady Gaga didn’t get any nominations but this crap did… I’m scratching my head will not watch the oscars.

      • Kim

        May 15, 2022 at 2:32 pm

        I would have walked out of this movie if I could! Difficult at 30,000 feet with the seatbelt sign on. The emperor has no brave friends to tell him he’s naked! Went to the trouble (liked the wardrobe) of a period piece and yet the dialogue was contemporary. “that’s a lot” and it’s complicated weren’t part of conversation in the ‘70’s. Lazy to allow it. ADD meets contrived! F.

    • Jane

      December 29, 2021 at 7:53 pm

      Not every movie made by a talented filmmaker is good, and this is one of them. I liked Boogie Nights but this was just awful

    • Aaron Mendoza

      January 29, 2022 at 3:13 am

      You’re right! Thats why PT should be held at a higher standard. I probably just didn’t get it. I had no connection or feeling from this film, and PT is my favorite working director.

    • Jeff Zoerner

      February 7, 2022 at 5:31 pm

      I agree with your assessment re: producers and parasites in general, but this movie was objectively horrible. Amidst all the accolades for this film, most of which are seemingly based upon an adoration for PTA and an appreciation for the performances, it serves a purpose for someone to point out that the movie was an unfocused, purposeless train wreck. Just my opinion, of course.

    • Jayda Novak

      February 16, 2022 at 12:45 am

      You sound like you’d be real fun at parties.


      February 20, 2022 at 6:02 pm

      the dude who directed RESIDENT EVIL?… u for REAL? get outta here dude… u lost the lil credibility u ever had! why u think i googled this movie adding the keyword SUCK?
      this dude knows more than u ever could and ever will..
      so let the GOAT warn us… AWARE gents… clown

      • robert heffernan

        February 20, 2022 at 8:38 pm

        Paul Thomas Anderson did not direct Resident Evil.
        He has written and directed:

        There Will Be Blood
        Boggie Nights
        The Phantom Thread
        The Master
        Inherent Vice
        Punch Love Drunk
        Hard Eight

        Obviously audiences have mixed feelings about Licorice Pizza though top critics have given it a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

        He is generally considered one of the greatest director/writers of the last quarter century if not of all time…

    • Matt D

      September 2, 2022 at 12:24 pm

      What an absurd criticism. You cant make a better movie so you have no place to judge a bad one when you see it?
      Well, you’re not a 5 star chef, so I guess you’re not allowed to have an opinion on any meal made and served by anyone but yourself for the rest of your life.
      You’re not a billionaire ex-president so you certainly aren’t allowed to have an opinion on Trump or any of his doings(which we know you do).
      When that new phone comes out that you spend 1300 dollars on, but turns out to be a downgrade from the last gen version, you’re not qualified to have an opinion on that because you cant make an Iphone14.
      What you need to do is get yourself a pair of pants. One with a lot of pockets, and maybe a vest. And go take a hike.

    • ShakespeareGal

      October 3, 2022 at 8:11 am

      She actually told Bradley Cooper’s character she was 28 then said 25. So my assumption is that she’s 28. Yeah, I’d like to know why PTA chose this when story could have been equally done if she was depicted as 18 without the extreme ew factor this has. The only reason other than poor choice would be if it were autobiographical.

    • Paul Getty

      November 13, 2022 at 3:44 pm

      Paul – it’s easy to critique other’s critiques too. You said nothing that wanted to make me see the movie. Try harder…

    • Jb

      November 26, 2022 at 8:29 am

      Stupid ridiculous movie. Vapid content. Only scene worth anything was when the would be mayor was by his boyfriend to leave with Alana. Waste of time

    • Jason

      January 2, 2023 at 1:50 pm

      I guess it’s my luck that I can’t make a masterpiece on screen, but what I CAN do is tell the difference between a masterpiece and wishfully thinking. It’s Hoffman’s Kid, I get it. The girl was meh, but Hoffman, I found annoying, and why is he on screen?

  2. Edward S Fireman

    December 19, 2021 at 4:07 am

    This might be one of the worst takes I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s so genuinely stupid, it hurts my head. You gave a film D because you didn’t like the age gap of a couple in the seventies. This type of thing was quite common back in those day. Do a bit of research before reviewing a film next time.

    • pann

      December 27, 2021 at 4:06 am

      Yeah, it was more common in the seventies and it was regarded as gross back then too. Most parents of that era would have raised hell if they found out their 15 year old son was getting it on with a 25 year old.

      • robert heffernan

        February 16, 2022 at 11:04 pm

        Except that they weren’t “getting it on” They kiss once at the very end of the film. He is pursuing her the whole time and she is ambivalent to confused about that.

    • Butt

      February 27, 2022 at 7:23 pm

      Agreed. Clearly the reviewer has deep psychological insecurities due to his inner grizzly pedophilia thus resulting in the guise of disgust for a FICTITIOUS scenario in a MOVIE.

      • Dex Hinton

        February 27, 2022 at 10:33 pm

        I haven’t replied to comments on this review in a while but I gotta say, this is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.

        Because I didn’t enjoy a movie about a 25 year old and a 15 year developing a romantic relationship I’m the one with a problem?

        And you also expect me to believe that the 25 year old woman who is dating a 15 year old, went to his house to show him her naked boobs, and ran across a city so that he could introduce her to an arcade full of people as his girlfriend (and he actually introduced them as husband and wife) is NOT sexually interested in this child?

        That makes sense to you? That’s how you’re going to defend this dumb ass movie?

      • John

        July 17, 2022 at 12:00 pm

        Dex it does seem like your really caught up on the PREMISE. you answer your own question “why do people like it” you list great acting, cinematography, and that it’s funny. And it also matches the tone of PTA movies which is also a big attractor. There you go. You described the too leads as generic is that part of your negative review? Using two unknowns faces is a deliberate choice it’s very in tune with the overall vision. And I like the obscured or unclear narrative to me is part of the PTA tone. If all you can do is like morally object to the premise then you’re completely missing what people do like about it. It’s insulting. Why be so narrow-minded about what’s acceptable as a film. You think it would have been a good movie if there had been a comment or dissension on the main characters relationship or something like that? Like whyyyy is that important why why why

      • Kate

        October 10, 2022 at 1:54 am

        Saw this movie on a plane. Noticed immediately it was trying to channel the atmospheres of both American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused, But the complete lack of plausibility in any of the characters’ actions or dialogue wrecks any connection with those (good) films.
        Pointless cameos from famous people.
        “Discovering” young actors that have existing Hollywood connections.
        It wasn’t funny; it was silly and implausible.
        A prefect case of Emperor Has No Clothes along with Hollywood Has No (good) Ideas.

      • Jason

        January 2, 2023 at 1:55 pm

        Hi, I’m in front of cameras, oh hi I am also in front of cameras and couldn’t be happier that this is happening…that’s what the two main characters seem to be thinking thru most of the flick… Not much comedy either…this was just a poor Rom.

  3. Joel

    December 19, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    Lighten up. If you’re the only person having a specific reaction, probably you are the one who needs to rethink things

    • Kristina

      January 20, 2022 at 4:59 am

      This is a dangerous comment, implying that everyone should react the same or that some type reaction is better than another. If we would to extrapolate this rule in real life, we would get situations of totalitarism where a dissenting opinion means that something is wrong with the person.
      That’s where regimes as that of Hitler flourish…

  4. Rob b

    December 24, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    Why doesn’t statutory rape enter the minds of these morally repugnant ignoramus type individuals who cannot discern artistic ability from societal dysfunction. Obviously not parents of underage children.

  5. Steve Levenberg

    December 27, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    I agree that it sucked for all the reasons mentioned. Like a horribly bad imitation of Almost Famous….

  6. Jelly Donut

    December 28, 2021 at 4:17 am

    I felt the same as you, so many reasons I disliked it, and was shocked after watching to find many glowing reviews online. So thank you for writing this, I asked the same question…. why was this made?


    January 1, 2022 at 5:33 pm

    Great review and I could not agree more. I felt like I was the only one in the theater grossed out by this movie. If it had been a 25 year old man and 15 year old girl, people would be losing their sh*t. Even though they don’t actually have sex, there are constant nuances and it’s a wholly inappropriate relationship. If they had made it a 17 year old boy one month from 18 and a 23 year old woman, that would have made it less disturbing, but it still would have been pointless and mostly boring.

  8. not worth the covid risk

    January 2, 2022 at 1:02 am

    Even ignoring the whole illegal age gap thing, the series of disjointed stories comprising the rest of the movie are highly implausible. 15-year-old boy opens a waterbed store? 15-year-old boy opens a pinball arcade? Are we to believe this is just the way things were in 1973, 15-year-old serial entrepreneurs roaming the streets of LA throwing big grand opening extravaganzas for their latest ventures? How about Gary getting dragged off to jail on suspicion of murder only to be forgotten about 2 minutes later? Or Sean Penn performing a Fonzi-esque motorcycle stunt for a crowd of cheering diners who abandoned their meals to go behind the restaurant to watch him? These are supposedly stories told to PTA by his former child actor friend?? And he believed them??

  9. Wayne Hilton

    January 6, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I cannot critique the movie bc I don’t do movies. However, Hollywood has always known how to create and exploit controversy. It does sell and this in depth review thread is proof. I refuse to be influenced by the immoral trash that weaves its way into our society and it’s not only the big or little screen.

  10. Nate

    January 8, 2022 at 12:53 am

    Pretty spot on review for me. Also not sure why this was made, what it was trying to say, and the rave reviews. I was uncomfortable through most of it, and could tell by the very first exchange of unrealistic and dragged out dialogue that I was in for a rough ride. Couldn’t wait for it to be over. I do applaud the acting, costume and set design.

  11. chick wonderman

    January 13, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Totally agree. Would also add misogynistic treatment of women. Hilarious? No. Sad.

    • Megan

      January 14, 2022 at 1:14 am

      I’m beyond grateful for this review, and all the insightful comments made after( except that one comment that was trite) anyway, I completely agree on every part, I went out of there feeling gross, and I genuinely thought it was a joke that they ended up together. I mean even if they were the same age, the relationship was built on jealousy and immaturity and when Alana finally starts to make something of herself and become a person, she just falls back on boys being the center of her attention in a weird thrown together ending. Also the unnecessary sexism (unnecessary because they don’t make it seem bad) and unnecessary racism, like if you’re trying to make a statement make a statement don’t just throw that crap in there because you think it’s funny.

  12. Tim Madera

    January 15, 2022 at 12:13 am

    Completely agreed. I wondered the whole time why it got such amazing reviews. It felt like it was trying to be absurd and failed. I could not figure out why this movie was made. There was a brief part in the beginning when I thought maybe it was about her mental illness and a slightly intrigued. But it never went anywhere interesting or unique. It really felt like this was an ’emperor has no clothes’ moment for Paul Thomas Anderson.

  13. David Smith

    January 15, 2022 at 9:29 am

    Some seriously weird comments here at the end of a seriously weird article. If you think an almost entirely chaste relationship between a teenager and a twenty something who spends two hours of the film rebuffing him constitutes a “sex crime” I would suggest you have led a very sheltered life indeed.

    • robert heffernan

      February 16, 2022 at 11:07 pm

      Exactly my thoughts. Were these folks watching the same movie we were?

  14. Jessica

    January 16, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    I hated this movie

  15. Nick Platt-Higgins

    January 17, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    Hello from the UK and it’s so welcoming to see a review so at one with my utter bewilderment to all the good reviews around this film. I didn’t have an issue with the age difference and to me it was almost irrelevant. It was the complete pointlessness of the whole thing, yep the acting was on point but there was no narrative, no beginning, middle nor real end. No life affirming message to take away, nothing to dwell on, to ponder nor digest….I didn’t hate it but I certainly didn’t like it and just couldn’t see the point of it all.

    • Chris Mathew

      January 29, 2022 at 4:33 pm

      Spot on comment, Nick, couldn’t agree more. Thanks for this review, good to feel one is not alone finding this movie completely unnecessary.

  16. P Baird

    January 31, 2022 at 1:06 am

    After seeing this movie:
    Me: “I waited two f*ing years to go see a movie because if civid, and wound up with this sorry excuse of a movie”.
    My husband: “Well there’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back”.
    HATED this piece of crap. Wish I would have read your very truthful review before I spent my $$.

  17. Lara B

    February 3, 2022 at 6:12 am

    It’s as if you read my mind while I was watching it. I kept looking at the time, wondering how soon it would be over. The performances were good, but there was nothing in this that made me like, root for, or even hate the characters. I was pretty much ambivalent the entire time. As a child of the 70s, I did enjoy the entire aura of the piece…it was all so familiar to me. But as an example of good storytellng, I’d have to say no thank you.

  18. ceej

    February 8, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    You are not wrong!! I totally agree with your review. Hated this movie and nearly walked out. Saw another couple on way out and we were all like “what did we just see?” Don’t get the hype at all..the same with Red Rocket..another movie just making fun of people who have a rough time..the only redeeming qualities of either movie is some of the actors…but geeze this one was dumb and not even funny

  19. Meredith

    February 12, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    Oh thank you! Happy to know I am not alone in not liking this film. I just saw it and I thought the exact same thing before I saw this review: Why did anyone make this? Then I saw all the glowing reviews of its dreamlike aimlessness and the many funny moments. Thought maybe I had dozed off in the middle of the movie and missed all of that. Agree that the momentary Brad Pitt appearance was very funny. Wouldn’t give you a nickel for the rest of it. I didn’t buy that there was any attraction or tension between the two main characters whatsoever.

    • robert heffernan

      February 16, 2022 at 11:01 pm

      Ugh, Brad Pitt? He wasn’t in the film!

  20. robert heffernan

    February 16, 2022 at 10:58 pm

    I find your remarks rather bewildering. You write “the 25-year old female lead who should soon be a registered sex offender”. You saw the movie. She never has sex with him. She kisses him once at the very end. She is not pursuing him sexually at all.

    • Angus Dodds

      February 21, 2022 at 5:39 pm

      I agree. This film was bobbins. The age gap love situation didn’t really offend me – but I actually thought he looked older than her! If you’re going to insist on a dramatic age gap being your set-up, get someone in that actually looks 15, rather than a Luvvie pal’s son – but that’s Hollywood for you! Most importantly though a believable story would have been a real bonus here. Why is a 15 year old running a water bed company staffed by 10 year olds? It was all so unbelievable, so contrived, and so-unengaging – I couldn’t really care less what happened to any of them. In its defence it was nicely shot and there was some good music, but I walked out after seeing the first minute of the Bradley Cooper cameo – which I just found hammy and self-indulgent. Maybe it got really good after I upped and left the cinema, but judging by most of the posts here, It didn’t. Well done the reviewer here for calling out the emperor’s New clothes!

  21. Amy

    February 22, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    I 100% agree with you, what the hell is this movie?! For a while I just wondered if Alana was lying about her age because she thought it would make her cool and get her acting jobs but that wasn’t it at all. I was left feeling creeped out after 2 hours of nothing happening other than nasty pedo vibes.

    • robert heffernan

      February 22, 2022 at 2:14 pm

      Nasty pedo vibes? She isn’t pursuing him. They never have sex. They have a hug and one kiss at the very end of the movie. I understand that people may not like it’s meandering somewhat absurdist plot. Yet, there is no unseemly sexual activity going on in this movie.

      • Antonino Ioviero

        February 24, 2022 at 5:06 am

        Alana goes straight for Gary at the Teen Expo; she gives a flimsy excuse for being there (two, actually). So, no, she does pursue him. (How does she even know he’ll be there?)

        As for sexual activity, this is an unbelievably chaste movie. The director goes to great lengths to ensure this, possibly to avoid reviews as above. My problem is exactly that; are we to believe the couple flew from California to New York without an overnight stay? And nothing noteworthy happened there?

  22. robert heffernan

    February 24, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    You are trying to read things into the movie that simply aren’t there. The plot is nutty and meandering. There is nothing pedo being portrayed except in your own mind.

  23. Scott

    February 26, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    “What was the reason that he decided it was a good idea to make a movie about statutory rape…”

    WHAT statutory rape?! Get a grip.

    • robert heffernan

      February 27, 2022 at 9:37 am

      Exactly Scott! They hugged once and had one kiss at the very end of the film. She wasn’t sexually pursuing him. Where is the rape? It’s a rather chaste film. It has a meandering and nutty plot that people are projecting onto.

  24. Burl Ross

    February 28, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you, Dex Hinton, for this review. As an actor and nominating committee member of SAG this year I was sent a screener early on. My jaw was on the floor throughout this screening at what a horrid, horrific film this was. The worst film of the year, in my “professional” opinion. And then the rave reviews came in, and I wondered if I had lost my mind, or was the entire world trying to gaslight me? Your review gave me hope that I am not insane. Jury is still out on that, but thank you again for being the first to say the Emperor has no clothes.

  25. Jon Carter

    March 1, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    Haven’t you done the maths……?
    15 at the start, and before any kiss and she realises she is in love.
    It’s set within the context of repugnant, far older men chasing her, slapping her ass, and she learns that the age difference the other way to much much older men is worse, yet accepted and encouraged.
    9-10 years difference as he turns 16 – do the math if you follow the film instead of focusing on alleged paedophilia, and leaving before you learn.
    I don’t comment on reviews, but a friend said nobody addressed the elephant in the room, and here are 2 differing views on the elephant
    Yes it’s on the cusp, at the start, and she is confused and turns away before anything happens, but he’s also mature in dialogue and entrepreneurship and confidence and honest, if not in all his behaviour.
    Ultimately, it is her journey, and she soul searched and realised the world is far worse than a 9 year romantic age gap and realised she was in love
    It’s beautiful. The performances are stellar.
    The goosebumps from Cooper Hoffman channelling his late father. It’s a masterpiece and heartwarmingly perfect in depicting the inequalities in what the heart wants when young and what the world does all around.
    I have young children and teenagers by the way.
    I’m so sorry you can’t enjoy the viewpoint of this near perfect film, that it actually makes you question why their journey may be so right than so wrong, from a misunderstanding of the film brought on by an uninformed understanding of the age difference

    F for the review
    Do again

  26. Novadi Mulyanto

    March 2, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    I agree with you, Dex. I don’t understand this movie and I think it’s overrated. I enjoyed There Will Be Blood. It’s a great movie. But Licorice Pizza? It’s so far different. I’m puzzled why it even received oscar nominations. You need to ask yourself, without those glowing reviews, will you honestly enjoy the movie? For me, there’s no deep meaning or message in it. I don’t live in the US so I don’t feel the nostalgic things. If it can win the best picture, then something’s wrong with the oscar this year.

  27. Tim B

    March 2, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks Dex, for the first honest review of this movie that I’ve read!

  28. Davida

    March 6, 2022 at 5:14 am

    What a relief to find a review calling out the obvious! It appears Hollywood misogynists took the wrong lesson from #metoo: that juvenile fantasies about insecure, hot, 25-year old women from old dudes are not OK, but juvenile fantasies about insecure, hot, 25-year old women from JUVENILES are to be celebrated! Good grief! The juveniles who fund and make movies in Hollywood deserve to be called out. Thank you!

  29. Jessica Klein

    March 8, 2022 at 1:11 am

    Thank you for this review. This movie made absolutely no sense. I was SO confused from the very beginning when I thought she was a student at the school and then the photographer slaps her ass and I say, what????? And I agreed with everything you said. But the worst part of the movie is that the
    triumphant love conquers all ending is about a dream girl who is so screwed up that it’s a happy ending when she basically makes the choice to go back to high school and start over again. This may have been HIS fantasy, but is hers really the revelation that all men are shits, but this fifteen year old boy isn’t so I’m going to give up adulthood? Even if this weren’t a crime – which you expressed quite well it is – it’s crazy. I can’t believe Maya Rudolph let her husband create a female character who is so two-dimensional. She is solely an object of his desire.

    There are some great moments in this movie. My favorite was Haim’s face when she realized Joel Wachs is gay and being a shit to his lover. She crumbles and yet holds it together to take the boyfriend home.

    But the fact that this coming of age moment leads to her regression – when it should send her straight out of her parents’ home to create an adult life – is the crime of this movie.

    It made me feel like watching Empire Records, That Thing You Do, American Graffiti – my list of beloved high school movies goes on and on.

    Confession: I’m a retired television writer/producer. I spent most of my career writing about teenagers, including the first seven seasons of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 where I wrote my way up the ranks to Executive Producer. You can piss on teen soaps all you want but I like stories that make sense.

    This one didn’t.

    • oggybleacher

      March 8, 2022 at 7:24 pm

      Dead on. A toxic relationship, combative, exploitative, vindictive, but with a final kiss? Why? Visually it works, emotionally it triggers me as an adult since it is all the worst elements of senseless infatuation with happy endings that are superficial and unjustified. But pretty…a pretty film. I am sure PTA enjoyed making this film immensely. Super fun to conceive and make.

      Not a fan of media that builds to a senseless climax that is surely the best it will ever get for these two mismatched characters. The sequel would be something like a race to see who goes to rehab the most times. Perfect! 1980 betty ford clinic for spoiled celebrity arcade owners going through divorce. Call a production designer!

    • Delvon

      August 20, 2022 at 10:55 pm

      So agree definitely had moments talent was believable art direction outstanding camerawork solid script made no sense
      Was not extremely offended by the pedo situation ( an off the cuff forbidden romance ) but really Oscar Nominated so confused

  30. J W

    March 16, 2022 at 2:08 am

    I’m more offended that I’m meant to believe that a 15-yr-old goofy boy has the power to seduce an attractive 25-yr-old woman into whatever kind of relationship would make her devote herself to him like she did. Jokes ! Chauvinist fantasies I guess

  31. Michael

    March 17, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    Clearly I need to start following your movie reviews because you nailed my opinion of this movie. WTF?

  32. Rico

    March 21, 2022 at 10:34 pm

    Glad I waited 3 months to see what the hype was about. Beyond terrible flick with an absurd premises-15 yo in LaLaLand opens up retail store businesses overnight and also falls in love-though no one really would care about the trials and tribulations of these two youngsters. This is actually from the director of the amazing classic There Will Be Blood. Embarrassing.

  33. Bob

    March 21, 2022 at 11:28 pm

    No compelling conflict in this movie, no likeable or even interesting characters, no irony, no surprises, no epiphanies, no theme, no ultimate change or revelation by the main characters. The camera work is dull, the dialog mediocre. Great job of finding 70’s set-pieces and props, though.

  34. Meg

    March 26, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    I completely agree and literally came across this review when o googled that I hated this movie. There was no reason for it to exist. It was horribly boring. I was annoyed almost immediately.

  35. Pat Hughes

    March 27, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Agree! Two hours of my life I will never get back. Not Worthy of best pic nom. Din’t care about age diff, it was a yawn. This pic is not in same league as Coda, Belfast, Westside, Don’t Look Up etc. Clearly the producers are ‘connected’ thus the nom.

  36. Ida Kelley

    March 29, 2022 at 10:44 am

    I just appreciate all these sentiments. Feel vindicated. Thank you.

  37. Jojo

    April 4, 2022 at 4:09 am

    I agree. Thanks for writing this review. The movie is gross on so many levels, with one of the worst parts being it is 2 hours of clickbait just designed to make people debate whether or not pedophilia, racism and misogyny should be socially acceptable. It’s like a drunk guy in a fedora who won’t leave you alone at the bar and keeps playing devils advocate to convince himself that he’s interesting. This movie is a great example of why so many people are tired of white guys, in dive bars everywhere and also in positions of power. Whoever disagrees with my opinion, that’s fine (try not to get too offended). But I’m mad at myself for wasting time on something that was so pointless when I could’ve just gone to sleep early or just dug some shit out of the toilet at Wendy’s with my bare hands instead. If there is a point to this movie it’s probably just to stir up controversy so these bored rich people can make more money.

  38. Revan

    June 16, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    The headline was my exact response to this film. About 2/3 of the way through, the film transitioned from being just a nothing, boring movie to a bad, senseless exercise and waste of my time.

    LICORICE PIZZA — ooh, how avant-garde to have a title that has no relation or reference in the film. And the wackadoodle restaurant scene and subsequent daredevil stunt comes out of nowhere and the characters then disappear because they had to no relevance to begin with.

    And just atrocious transitions and character development (what character development?)

  39. Belinda

    August 10, 2022 at 11:36 am

    Licorice Pizza is a tasty bite of nosalgia. Savory and sweet. I have watched the movie several times and have never tired of it. One key point is the age of the viewer. The story takes place within my lifetime, the oil embargo and gas rationing, the music, Jon Peters, California in the 70’s, Teen Fairs, water beds, Nixon… I felt it deeply as a blast from the past. It’s not just that, however. It’s the character development, so real. When a talented storyteller gives us our imperfect selves in characters and we grow to love them and notice them it’s a beautiful connection. Alana and Gary are soulmates from the beginning. They are the same people packaged a little differently. Alana is outspoken, saucy, and bold yet insecure about her desirability, it seems mostly due to the fact that she is not traditionally pretty in that common way. Gary is a visionary and confident but awkward, goofy and immature at times. He is able to recognize that she’s a comet in disguise. She’s not a short story, but a neverending adventure. Gary sees beyond the surface of things. Visionaries are like that. So for me, I related deeply to these characters. I love the juxtaposition of their incredible romance playing out in Hollywood. It’s bigger than Jon and Barbra. It’s all of us. I have some magical occurrences in my past, more impressive than the silver screen, ordinary yet Sublime. That’s what I connected to in this story. Another factor is the struggle Alana goes through because a relationship with Gary is not socially acceptable or what culturally we’ve been told is the right thing to do and it’s illegal. Love is love and in many ways, Gary is more mature than Alana. A true masterpiece, bravo! I have a collection of movies like this and hope many more of them flood out the Top Gun crap.

    • Harry

      August 10, 2022 at 5:51 pm

      What a Crock of Crap this was a self-indulgent perverts story, oh and of Course Jewish Jewish Jewish, don’t forget the Faith rammed down your throat, the movie was a fucking joke and sucked in plain English; Garbage

  40. robert heffernan

    August 10, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    “What a Crock of Crap this was a self-indulgent perverts story, oh and of Course Jewish Jewish Jewish, don’t forget the Faith rammed down your throat,”

    Wow, resorting to anti semitic nonsense. If someone doesn’t like the movie fine but to resort to ethnic slurs is disgusting (and there was what one scene that signifies religion?).

    • Jason

      January 2, 2023 at 2:31 pm

      Appropriate movie name for this is Waterbed Nipples. Thank you and good night! Bows

  41. Sylvia M. Gonzalez-Pizana

    January 18, 2023 at 10:51 am

    I watched this movie this past weekend during a long layover at the airport. I thought, well, this movie got a lot of good reviews … hated it. I watched until the end because I thought surely the point of the story would be revealed in the end: nope. The “relationship” between the 25 year-old woman and the 15 year-old boy had my stomach turning. I was very uncomfortable. I kept thinking, surely they all realize she’s a sex offender, right? To be fair, I enjoyed the beautiful portrayal of Southern California in the early 1970s – I’m a native who was born there in the early 70s – plus the great music, but that’s it. I was extremely disappointed. Your review captured exactly how I felt.

    • robert heffernan

      January 18, 2023 at 11:15 am

      Sex offender? She hugged and kissed him once at the end.
      The film was not anywhere near the level of his other movies. Though as you noted it is well crafted. Yet, that didn’t warrant such good reviews in my opinion (and he is one of my favorite director/writers).

      • Sylvia M. Gonzalez-Pizana

        January 18, 2023 at 11:30 am

        Just my opinion. I’m very sensitive to that stuff for personal reasons.

  42. Kimi

    February 4, 2023 at 10:52 pm

    So happy I found your article because I was wondering the same thing. This movie was horrible.

  43. Janet

    February 9, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    Dex Hinton, thank you for your honest and heartfelt review. I hated the hell out of this movie and couldn’t even finish watching it. You were so spot on. And yes about the age gap. Gross and inappropriate.

  44. Peter

    August 9, 2023 at 1:44 am

    Thank you for this review. Ridiculous that this film got so many positive reviews. I was not impressed with Haim at all as an actress, just to add my 2 cents.

  45. Tom

    September 9, 2023 at 12:37 am

    I thought the whole thing was incandescent. One of the coolest aspects was bursting the bubble of “old Hollywood” being anything “special” — I love the send-up of William Holden quoting lines from his own movies in order to seduce a young woman in a bar. At the same time, it gave the two leads a sort of bubble of their own to live in, where they could go running off into the night together at the end. They won’t last long, and she’ll break his heart in three months, but for a short window of time they’re exactly what each other needs. I thought it was thrilling.

    (For those talking about “sex crimes”, etc., they haven’t had sex, or done anything else that would put them within 10 miles of illegal. Will they soon, now that they’ve kissed? Maybe. If so, it’ll be something they both need to process. But despite the illegality, the truth is that if they actually do get around to having sex, it wouldn’t be one of the thousand or so worse things to be depicted and condoned in a Hollywood movie. I’d rather my 15 year old have sex with a 25 year old than have my 18 year old earn medals for valor in combat. Or, for that matter, than to see my kid do literally any of the things depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie that was pretty giddy about illegally gaming the financial system.)

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