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Licorice Pizza Is Entertaining, But Also Disjointed

Licorice Pizza is one of those films you cannot look away from, no matter how hard you try. It isn’t perfect, but has a certain charm to it.

licorice pizza movie review

Licorice Pizza is certainly entertaining, however the length and collection of stories make it feel very disjointed. There is a lot going on here that is sure to make audiences feel the length of this 2 hour and 13 minute long movie. The two main characters have an appeal and a chemistry to them though that viewers cannot help but feel connected to. It is because of them that the movie works.

This movie feels like a love letter to being a teenager. When Gary Valentine meets Alana Kane, he says that she is the girl he is going to marry — despite their age differences (he is 15 and she is 25). A bizarre and quirky friendship forms almost instantly, which then turns into a business venture partnership. As they both grow older, and explore other relationships, the way they care about each other changes.

Alana Haim surprisingly commands attention while on screen. She so very clearly misses being a young teenager and spending time with Gary brings that side of her out. She is emotional and allows herself to become attached to different men quite easily — something that becomes more and more obvious the longer the movie goes on.

licorice pizza movie review

Cooper Hoffman has the wit and charm of his father, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and viewers can’t help but see him in this performance. That is not a bad thing either, but rather a compliment. With this being Cooper’s debut performance it is clear that he has a long career in acting ahead of him should he want it. No need to rely on his father’s reputation, he can do this all on his own. 

His on screen chemistry with Alana Haim is the most intriguing part of the film. It never quite feels like their relationship would make any sense, and yet somehow the audience will find themselves rooting for them.

It is a shock that there is such a real life age gap between the two of them. Honestly, while watching the film I was half expecting her to admit she was lying about her age at some point. Perhaps that speaks wonders for their chemistry and how much it seems like they related to each other from the start. 

licorice pizza movie review

The biggest issue with Licorice Pizza is how disjointed it feels. The film clocks in at 2 hours and 13 minutes which is far too long for something like this. Because of this length there are several moments where the audience will likely be checking their watches. 

Every time it feels like it is wrapping up, another story line pops up and the movie continues down yet another long road to get to the place we all know it is going. This is clearly so that viewers will know everything these two endured, and how their relationship grew and evolved over time, before they ultimately end up in love, but it could have easily been shortened. 

There is a solid 30 to 45 minutes that could have been cut out of Licorice Pizza, which would have tightened things up, not making it feel so disjointed. It almost feels like a collection of shorts, or a television series, because of just how many details and events are thrown into it.

That said, everything seems to pull together in the end, trying to justify the long runtime and almost pulling it off.

licorice pizza movie review

Overall Thoughts

One of those movies that you just cannot look away from – even through its faults. Several big name cameo appearances that will bring a smile to your face. The two leads are great, and keep the story moving the best they can.

However, the story feels very disjointed and goes on for far too long. Viewers can’t help but wonder what all these side stories have to do with the main plot. The answer to that is pretty much nothing except for showing how the relationship between Alana and Gary has evolved.

A charming love letter to teenagerhood, young love, and the 1970s. It is far too long and often disjointed, but the lead performances make up for the faults.

licorice pizza poster

About Licorice Pizza

Alana Kane and Gary Valentine grow up, run around and fall in love in California’s San Fernando Valley in the 1970s.

Licorice Pizza is in theaters now.