Licorice Pizza (2021) Review

The story of Gary Valentine and his first love for Alana Kane, as he grows up in San Fernando Valley in 1973.


Licorice Pizza is one of those films that has a lot of buzz in the film world and been around the awards season nominations, this made me really want to see it and the staggered release seemed very slow. Before watching the film I had seen so many positive aspects around it and that it was a coming of age film, which was surely a very good sign considering we have so many great films in that area.


I could not get past the creepy and awful age gap between 15 year old Gary Valentine and 25 or 28 year old (both of those ages were mentioned) Alana Kane. In all honesty I was actually quite shocked that all of this buzz was coming with an underaged “love” story at its core. I have nothing against age gaps at all but once the people involved are in their twenties at least, you know actually having some life experience and all that.

Considering in the opening scene I assumed that they were both at the same school, until of course it was clear that Alana was actually working as they were taking the year book photos. At that point I started to get a little bit concerned about the direction it was then going in.

Gary had worked as an actor from an even younger age and had a business already with his mother, when she could not accompany him on a working trip he employees Alana as his chaperone. She then actually briefly has a relationship with one of the other actors and his age is not revealed, so is something seriously wrong with Alana? That was all I could think of, she was not a likeable character at all. Actually none of the characters were and I think that created even more problems as I attempted to get through this awful film.

The running time, 2 hours and 13 minutes certainly felt a hell of a lot longer than that, endless it would seem. As Gary somehow managed to create so many different business opportunities as things changed, waterbeds, pinball machines being legal again. All while chasing Alana who in turn wanted to be an actress and got herself into more odd situations.

Every now and then a film comes along that is critically acclaimed and loved by what feels like everyone and I just fail to understand how and why, this year that award goes to Licorice Pizza which has left me truly baffled. He was 15 years old?!?!

I also fail to understand how and why Bradley Cooper has been nominated for awards as well for his role which shouldn’t even count as supporting given it feeling more like a cameo, I have always been a big fan of Cooper but much better supporting performances out this year.

So basically I just found this disturbing, surely if this was the other way round then everyone would be complaining about it (especially given some of the recent stories in the media, about underaged girls).

When it comes to Paul Thomas Anderson I guess I really should have remembered just how much I hated Inherent Vice and given up on his future films from that point. I do hope I am not alone in my feelings towards this film, but I just can’t get my head around what there is to like about it. Sorry.

7 thoughts on “Licorice Pizza (2021) Review

  1. I’m normally pretty aligned with your views on films, but not on this one. I understand your views on the controversial aspects of the film, but I don’t think that should detract from how good a film it was. I don’t think PTA was condoning any aspects of the film (the age difference, the casual sexism and racism, the drug-taking etc). I think they just reflected the times (which I appreciate for you is ancient history but for me – sadly – still in my memory!). My review (which references yours) is here:

    Liked by 1 person

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