‘Licorice Pizza’ looks like Paul Thomas Anderson’s love letter to San Fernando Valley
No, the new “Licorice Pizza” trailer isn’t about candy or pizza. Or Bradley Cooper for that matter.
The new Paul Thomas Anderson film, whose trailer dropped Monday, is about a pair of 1970s high school students from the San Fernando Valley — one of whom is a successful child actor — and looks very much like it was shot in the Valley at that time.
Written and directed by Anderson (“Phantom Thread,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Boogie Nights”), the nostalgic coming-of-age film stars Valley-bred Alana Haim of the pop band Haim and Cooper Hoffman, the son of late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, both in their feature-film debuts.
As the trailer shows, the throwback movie leans into life in the L.A. suburb and showcases the minutiae of growing up there — all against the backdrop of Hollywood and making it big.
“So how’d you become such a hot-shot actor?” Haim’s character asks.
“I’m a showman. That’s what I’m meant to do,” Hoffman’s Gary says as he dances onstage in a kid-filled production.
There’s palpable chemistry and tension between the two young stars as she disrobes in front of him and slaps him shortly thereafter. They bicker, nearly hold hands and run toward each other a number of times throughout the trailer.
Bradley Cooper, who is among the top-billed cast but not the star of the trailer, is featured as hairdresser and producer Jon Peters, giving Gary a lesson in how to say his girlfriend Barbra Streisand’s name in one scene and inexplicably damaging cars in the next.
Haim tells The Times that its album “Women in Music Pt. III” will be released on June 26: “We really want it to be out for the summer.”
There are also glimpses of Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, as well as Maya Rudolph (who’s married to Anderson). Musician Tom Waits and Benny Safdie are also among the cast.
The film, previously titled “Soggy Bottom,” got its new name from the long-shuttered L.A. record and video store chain. Incidentally, the Licorice Pizza chain actually got its name from a comedy sketch on an album by ‘60s folk singers Bud & Travis. (The entertainers mused about sprinkling their records with sesame seeds and selling them as licorice pizzas.)
Anderson, 51, grew up in the Valley and has spent most of his life there.
“Listen, I’m aware of its shortcomings. I know it’s not the prettiest place to live in Los Angeles. But it’s home!” he told The Times’ Glenn Whipp in 2018. “And that just becomes the thing you love. I could spend my whole life here — I’m in the middle of spending my whole life here.”
“Licorice Pizza” will get a limited release on Nov. 26 and expand nationwide on Dec. 25.
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