Licorice Pizza, like all Paul Thomas Anderson films, is an acquired taste, but this film happens to be one of his easiest to digest. Set in 1973, this engagingly quirky coming of age dramedy is Dazed and Confused in Hollywood. The story revolves around one teenage TV and commercials actor named Gary Valentine as he navigates his home and school life, career and burgeoning love life during Fast Times in the San Fernando Valley. Based on stories of real life events that were told to Anderson, Licorice Pizza stars Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his first acting role. Despite his reluctance to take the part, young Hoffman is engaging and likable as a teenager who asks an older woman out on a date and, much to his surprise, she says yes. Alana Haim, one third of the rock band, Haim, is his plays that older women, who becomes his love interest. And, Haim is the film’s breakout star. The superb 70’s soundtrack and several stellar cameos from Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn and Tom Waits, plus Leonardo DiCaprio as Gary’s dad and Sasha Spielberg (the daughter of Steven) make Licorice Pizza a satisfying slice of summer fun for warming distraction from this year’s winter chill. And, just so you know, there’s actually no licorice or pizza on the menu, but there are plenty of coming of age capers to spice things up. In theaters now.
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