Paul Thomas Anderson has blessed us with another fun LA romp which will undoubtedly slide its way onto everyone's Summer 2023 mood board. Not to get into it before we get into it, but mark my words, you're going to find so many "You've come a long way, baby" DIY t-shirts on Depop. Anyway, the adorably named "Licorice Pizza" stars Cooper Hoffman (son of Phillip Seymour!) as Gary Valentine and Alana Haim (sister of the other two Haim sisters!) as Alana Kane as they grow up, find love, and f*ck around LA in the '70s. While this isn't Haim's first acting role, it is the first time we've seen Hoffman in a film, proving it really is the perfect time for the sons of famous actors.
The movie will have a limited release on November 26, 2021, and will be released nationwide on December 25, 2021. But before you start lining up at your cute local cinema, let's get nice and cozy with this trailer.
Life On LA?
The very first thing we get hit with is the melancholy, and yet also celebratory, keys of David Bowie's "Life on Mars?" Bowie soundtracks the entire trailer, and the highs and lows of this jam perfectly reflect the sort of languorous chaos PTA is throwing at us in the trailer.
We catch Haim walking through what looks like the hallways of a perfectly manicured California school, where Hoffman immediately spots her in the crowd. She looks cool and bored and we get a weird (but also hilarious) dig on her character via Bowie's lyrics. As the camera cuts to a tight shot of Haim with her brunette hair delicately floating in the breeze, Bowie croons "It's a God-awful small affair/To the girl with the mousy hair."
As a woman who triumphantly refers to her hair color as "muskrat brown," I think I feel seen?
Everyone Looks Like A Baby
Right after Bowie roasts Haim, we cut to a sweet and youthfully confident scene where Hoffman leans in to whisper to one of his friends, "I met the girl I'm going to marry one day." And we get some fun and sexy shots of them wandering around together at night, as well as shots of Haim experiencing some classic teen angst in the form of her parents yelling at her (presumably for hanging out with a boy). It's important to note here that everyone's outfits look fantastically vintage, and the youthfulness of this film is off the charts. It makes you wish you could spend all night drinking homemade Slurpee rum and Cokes on the hood of your best friend's car while you fight about who gets the aux. Or in this case, the 8-track.
And yet, PTA is able to dial up the youthfulness from 10 to 11. Between the quick shots of Hoffman sitting in a waiting room with a row of incredibly dapper kids and a shot of him surrounded by child actors on a stage, it becomes pretty clear that Hoffman himself is/was a child actor ... who is becoming a man actor?
In a very adult, dimly lit restaurant, Haim asks Hoffman point blank, "So how'd you become such a hotshot actor?" and Hoffman confidently, but also a little sarcastically responds, "I'm a showman, that's what I'm meant to do." These short burst of scenes do an excellent job at characterizing Haim and Hoffman very quickly; she's mature and unaffected while he's unabashedly confident with himself and his life.
We Can't Stop Thinking About Bradley Cooper's Hair
Everything changes when Bradley Cooper comes out of nowhere with a haircut I won't be able to stop thinking about. His beard is writing a check those bangs won't be able to cash.
Of course, right out of the gate Cooper is asking Hoffman, "Do you know who I am?" which is delightfully followed up with "Do you know who my girlfriend is?" Which brings us to an awkwardly fun scene where Hoffman is incapable of pronouncing the name "Barbra Streisand" who Cooper's character is dating.
Considering everything that's going on with his hair, Cooper is actually playing Jon Peters, a hairdresser and film producer who started dating Streisand before producing the 1976 version of "A Star Is Born" (which starred Streisand). We don't know exactly how Cooper's character comes to meet Hoffman's, or how much power he'll hold, but that's the least of our worries. I'm more concerned that this is this Cooper's way of telling us that he can't let go of "A Star Is Born."
Why Is Sean Penn Here?
Like a portent of the apocalypse, Cooper's appearance leads us into a series of scenes that throw a little shade on this LA summer romance. Hoffman is seen making eyes with another girl at what honestly looks like a child's pizza party, while Haim is caught all cozied up with a smarmy-looking Sean Penn in the corner booth of a dimly lit restaurant. She sticks out her tongue at Hoffman, who looks like he's just across the room, and you get the sense that this summer flirtation might have become a summer competition, with the two one-upping each other when it comes to how much hurt they can cause.
While this trailer doesn't have many scenes that get much room to breathe, it does a great job at making the case for Hoffman and Haim's chemistry. They come off as the sort of people who are obsessed with each other but are also terrified of letting the other person know that. Her coolness mixed with his general enthusiasm makes for a fun (and probably sad) combination.
"Do You Really Want To See My Boobs?"
And speaking of scenes that get a little breathing room, we catch Haim (in a very cute velvet red dress) marching up the street like she's on a warpath. She knocks on Hoffman's door, and when he answers in one of his many striped shirts, Haim asks, in an accusatory way, "Do you really want to see my boobs?" She pulls down her dress, Hoffman stares, and he awkwardly asks, "Can I touch them?" Which causes Haim to slap him across the face and walk away while yelling, "See you tomorrow."
As much as I love PTA, this feels like the kind of scene only an old man would write, one who has forgotten what it's like to be young and also has no idea what it's like to be a woman. Maybe it fits in perfectly with the film and will get a big laugh in the theater, but it comes off as stilted and trying too hard for a laugh in the trailer.
"Do You Think It's Weird...?"
That brings us to a quick run of scenes that highlight Haim's and Hoffman's carefree chemistry while also illustrating the fact that they're in different places in their lives. In the fading sunlight, Haim even questions one of her friends, asking, "Do you think it's weird I hang out with Gary and his friends all the time?" She follows that up with, "I think it's weird that I hang out with Gary and his 15-year-old friends all the time."
But we don't get very long to ruminate on the relationship between Haim and Hoffman before things take a darker turn beyond their complex, and possibly souring, relationship. As David Bowie sings "Take a look at the lawman/Beating up the wrong guy," we see Hoffman get tackled and arrested by cops at some sort of pageant. As he's dragged into the back seat, Haim runs after him, hands pressed against the windows. Throughout the trailer, there's been this sense that Hoffman's career isn't exactly where he wants it to be, or perhaps he's growing out of it, and this seems like a confirmation that things aren't going well for him.
There's also a quick shot of Benny Safdie (director of "Uncut Gems") shaking a man's hand as he wears the most '70s tie you can imagine. Whether he's playing a director or one of those film-adjacent LA guys, we don't know yet, but it'll be interesting to see what happens there.
The Best Scene In The Trailer
While all of the chaotic love scenes are clearly the heart of this trailer, the soul is a quick clip where we get to watch Bradley Cooper (he's back!) smash a bunch of car windows with window squeegees. It is absolutely unhinged, and considering his character immediately came off as off-kilter and washed up, this scene feels perfect. I hope it is so much longer than what we see in this trailer. This is Cooper's Nicolas Cage moment.
Speaking of the deep roster that is the "Licorice Pizza" supporting cast, Tom Waits shows up out of nowhere. He's smoking a cigarillo, wearing glasses, and yelling things like, "Roll sound," and "Roll camera A," and "Roll camera B," as he throws a beer can into a swimming pool.
It's more fun than you would imagine watching incredibly successful people pretend to be incredibly unsuccessful. Maybe their fear of things tilting the opposite way at any time makes it easier to harness those emotions? Either way, we also get a quick shot of Maya Rudolph giving the camera an incredulous look. She doesn't say anything, but she doesn't have to say anything — she's Maya Rudolph.
Love And Hate
As "Life on Mars?" finally crescendos and comes to a close (and we're treated to a flash of Sean Penn jumping a motorcycle over a fire), the trailer ends with Haim and Hoffman running straight into each other's arms. Then the vintage as hell "Licorice Pizza" logo blooms over their heads.
With its old school LA vibe, it's hard not to compare this film to PTA's other ode to Los Angeles, "Inherent Vice," or even non-PTA movies like "Almost Famous." There's clearly a lot of push and pull, between success and failure, between love and hate, and between growing up or staying the same.
Read this next: Yes, That's Philip Seymour Hoffman's Son Starring In Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza
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