Starring Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, the film follows the adventures of high schooler Gary Valentine (Hoffman) and Alana Kane (Haim), an enthralling woman in her 20s. Set in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley in 1973, “Licorice Pizza” also stars Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie.
When the social media embargo lifted on the movie on Thursday night, film journalists and critics took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the prolific director’s latest outing, with Yahoo Entertainment correspondent Kevin Polowy writing that he’d “put it near ‘Inherent Vice’ on the scale of PTA.”
#LicoricePizza is definitely a vibe. Few rock an aesthetic like Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s fun, and the first half is really funny, but also kind of meandering at times. I’d put it near Inherent Vice on the scale of PTA.
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) November 12, 2021
Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes writer Erik Davis wrote that he “fell hard” for the film. “Like ‘Punch-Drunk Love,’ it’s funny & eccentric, but the guy who sells mattresses in this one is a 15-year-old entrepreneur who’s fallen hopelessly in love & doesn’t know what to do about it,” Davis said. “Will be one you watch lots of times.”
I fell hard for Paul Thomas Anderson's #LicoricePizza. Like PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, it's funny & eccentric, but the guy who sells mattresses in this one is a 15-year-old entrepreneur who's fallen hopelessly in love & doesn't know what to do about it. Will be one you watch lots of times pic.twitter.com/vGJ44tWwd6
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) November 12, 2021
David Ehrlich, IndieWire chief film critic, wrote that “Licorice Pizza” is “god-tier PTA even *before* the 20-minute sequence where Bradley Cooper absolutely terrorizes the San Fernando Valley like a horny cocaine godzilla in a pantsuit. Maybe the best movie I’ve ever seen about a teen selling waterbeds to impress his older Jewish crush.”
Licorice Pizza is god-tier PTA even *before* the 20-minute sequence where Bradley Cooper absolutely terrorizes the san fernando valley like a horny cocaine godzilla in a pantsuit. maybe the best movie i've ever seen about a teen selling waterbeds to impress his older jewish crush
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) November 12, 2021
Collider writer Perri Nemiroff called the movie “a dream” and “an opportunity to become completely enveloped by 1970s L.A. and the comfort and charm of an impossibly sweet story about growing up and finding love.” Nemiroff further praised the performances of both Haim and Hoffman, writing that it was “an utter joy watching them dazzle in this.”
#LicoricePizza is a dream! An opportunity to become completely enveloped by 1970s LA and the comfort and charm of an impossibly sweet story about growing up and finding love. Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman have my heart. What an utter joy watching them dazzle in this. pic.twitter.com/xYle3NOjsr
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) November 12, 2021
Film critic Courtney Howard called “Licorice Pizza “superb” and said it “feels like a warm, funny memory-driven coming of age fever dream, capturing a time when youthful possibilities crash into reality.” Howard also lauded the film’s soundtrack as “killer,” Haim as “absolutely terrific” and Hoffman as “a revelation.”
Paul Thomas Anderson’s #LicoricePizza is superb. Feels like a warm, funny memory-driven coming of age fever dream, capturing a time when youthful possibilities crash into reality. Alana Haim is absolutely terrific. Cooper Hoffman, a revelation. Plus it’s got a KILLER soundtrack. pic.twitter.com/S7SnVZZQes
— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) November 12, 2021
See more reactions below.
LICORICE PIZZA is Paul Thomas Anderson’s lightest & joyous film he’s made in some time, maybe ever. Sweet, hilarious & made with so much love & care. The various celebrity one-scene cameos are fun but Cooper Hoffman & Alana Haim steal our hearts with their incredible chemistry. pic.twitter.com/4KkxP0TKho
— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) November 12, 2021
LICORICE PIZZA is my personal favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie since PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. For people who complain you want something “like Boogie Nights,” well, here you go.
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) November 12, 2021
I love PT Anderson's films so maybe I was in the bag for Licorice Pizza but, holy shit, did I LOVE Licorice Pizza.
A beautiful, funny, warm, layered, moving love letter to growing up, romance, LA, movies, with so many wonderful characters and moments and AHHH. Perfection. pic.twitter.com/4xFtpSINPp
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) November 12, 2021
Sad to report that Licorice Pizza does not contain any licorice or pizza, however, it is PTA’s most accessible film & a love letter to Hollywood in the 70s. While the first half is stronger than the second, I enjoyed spending time in this weird world PTA created. #LicoricePizza pic.twitter.com/QkgcyMCpN3
— Scott Menzel (@ScottDMenzel) November 12, 2021