Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming of age 70s schmaltzy flick was made in bad taste.
Warning: (Slight) spoilers ahead!
Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest flick, has been getting hype online for a while now since the first critics got to see it, and so I was so excited to finally make a trip to the cinema for it, in 35mm no less. And I can’t blame film nerds for enjoying it; the cinematography was beautiful, the soundtrack glorious, and the casting perfect. But the age gap left a worse taste in my mouth than aniseed.
25-year-old Alana and 15-year-old Gary would have made unlikely but hilarious friends, but I can’t say I was rooting for them to be anything more. Aside from the age problem, which I think is too overlooked as it is, there was little real chemistry there, and the improbable crush of a teen boy was more amusing than anything else. Even Alana finds it weird as she says, but that doesn’t stop her, and I don’t think the film would have been received as heartwarming were the genders reversed.
In fact, Alana goes on a date with an older man, and this is clearly set up as more unsettling, despite them both being adults, taking place in a dimly lit, seedy corner with lots of alcohol. A fifteen-year-old boy is a strange hero for a woman in her mid-twenties. Essentially, I can tell you how fast I would fight a woman in her 20s having any sort of relationship with my teenage brother. In addition, the anti-Asian racist jokes, while clearly making fun of the racist, felt a little overt and unnecessary at most points, and between both of these distasteful factors I can't bring myself to feel warmly for the film.
While the pacing slowed in the middle, overall each shot was well thought out, and honestly it was a stunning film, but I find these issues and their implications too large and jarring to overlook. I didn’t feel it was a warm, funny, romantic story by the end, despite having high hopes until this point – ultimately Licorice Pizza was just hard to digest.
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