Licorice Pizza Review: Dreaming and Planning in California

These moments are cheap and stupid and add nothing to a movie that throws so much scattered rotation and laser effect: OPEC’s oil crisis, water pans, the picture of palm trees against the night sky and the kind of stars that no longer shine their brightest. One of Anderson’s best recurring results in “Licorice Pizza” is the feeling of living in a city like Los Angeles, where everyone in the business works, seems to be, or wants to be, and thus continues to stick to his Hollywood promise, whether it’s Gary or the dull, mid-level stars lounging at the neighborhood joint. There, Sean Penn roars in a lush old studio while Tom Waits and his other buddies smile on the sidelines.

All the while, Alana continues to rage and fire, steadily lighting Gary and the movie brightly like a Fourth of July fireworks, even as the story slides here and there, gathering and losing momentum. The movie doesn’t always know what to do with Alana other than the dog after her, and it’s especially problematic that while Anderson makes her an object of love and lust, it lowers her sexual desire. Alana may be lost, but she is not dead, quite the contrary. She is a woman who is alive in the world and aware of her allure. But she’s anomalously empty, as virgin and secure as the comedic teenage heroine. She doesn’t even ask Gary to make her happy, nor to know what to do.

Alana deserves better, damn it! Everyone knows it (well, not Gary) even a Hollywood producer based on the real John Peters (the sexy Bradley Cooper) knows it. Brilliantly confused, a white shirt flanking his chest hair, a kilo of Coke (probably) up his nose, Peters popped up after Gary started a waterbed company. Business is a long story, not particularly good, but Peters, who is dating Barbra Streisand, wants a bed and he wants it now. This starts a power sequence in which Alana, who helps Gary manage things, takes the wheel of a monstrous moving truck. She’s natural, genius, Streisand, Andretti, California goddess, and as she slows down and leaves, Alana gives you a vision of perfection and Licorice Pizza is the driver you need.

Licorice pizza
Rated R for stereotypes, language, and high ginkgo teens. Show duration: 2 hours and 13 minutes. in theatres.

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