A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No clear message, but at movie's center is theme about making connections with others, how that requires a certain amount of trust. Sometimes characters betray one another's trust, but they work hard to get it back.
Positive Role Models
Gary and Alana are ambitious. They seem to be trying hard to make their way in the world, perhaps even do some good, but they make poor choices; they're comic failures more often than they're successes. Still, they're lovably flawed.
Majority of cast is White. Lead woman character, Alana, is three-dimensional and on equal footing with male co-star. In some sequences, a White man speaks in an exaggerated Japanese accent to a Japanese woman (who speaks Japanese back to him); the spirit of these scenes is ironic and meant to make the White man seem foolish and clueless. A Jewish family is depicted as both loving and argumentative; a character makes a reference to a character having a "Jewish nose."
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Violence & Scariness
Character flies into fits of rage, breaking windows, threatening others with harm. Suspenseful sequence with characters guiding a gasless truck down city streets.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman bares her breasts; her back is to the camera. Sexual dialogue and gestures. A kiss. Woman in short shorts objectified by the camera.
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Several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "hell," "prick," "dick-head," etc. "G-damn" and "oh my God" used as exclamations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters are comically drunk in one scene. Teens try to order cocktails. Cigarette smoking. Pot smoking. Mention of LSD.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Licorice Pizza is writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's dramedy set in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. It centers on the relationship between 15-year-old Gary (Cooper Hoffman) and 25-year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim) and is a sunny, drifting, relaxed, funny movie, based more on mood and character than on plot. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "bitch," and more. Characters drink (sometimes to excess) and smoke cigarettes, as well as smoke pot and use LSD. Teens try to order cocktails. There's some sex-related dialogue, as well as sexual gestures, kissing, some objectification of women, and a scene in which Alana shows Gary her breasts with her back to the camera. A character flies into fits of rage, breaks windows, and threatens others with harm, and in one suspenseful sequence, characters coast a gasless truck downhill through city streets. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Relaxed and rambling, this lovable, hazy, sunny dramedy is likely Paul Thomas Anderson's funniest movie, and its seeming lack of ambition elevates it above some of his more challenging efforts. The title Licorice Pizza comes from a beloved record store of that time and place, and although the store itself never appears in the movie, it features plenty of pop and rock tunes that might have been purchased there. The movie feels expansive and slightly off-kilter, with a parade of character actors drifting in and out of the background, sometimes for almost no reason, as when a film director (Tom Waits) challenges a drunken actor (Sean Penn) to jump his motorcycle over a bonfire. And Bradley Cooper has a very funny sequence as a pompous Hollywood power player.
As in Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love and Phantom Thread, the world of Licorice Pizza revolves around its two central characters and their shifting relationship dynamics (even if the mood is closer to Boogie Nights or Inherent Vice). Gary actually recalls Max Fischer in Wes Anderson's Rushmore: a suave, smooth-talking adult trapped in an inelegant child's body, able to talk anyone into anything. Alana (who's a real-life member of the pop group HAIM) is plucky and stubborn, as evidenced in the exhilarating sequence in which she coolly pilots a gasless delivery truck downhill through the city. The movie's wandering, barely connected events can't really be called a "story," but the end result still feels meaningful. Perhaps a clue to its central theme lies in its title. Why call the movie Licorice Pizza? Why not?
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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