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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast:
Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper
Writing Credits:
Paul Thomas Anderson

Synopsis:
The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/17/2022

Bonus:
• Camera Tests
• “The Handman Scene”
• “Fat Bernie’s Commercial”
• Behind the Scenes Photos
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Licorice Pizza [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 9, 2022)

Paul Thomas Anderson made his first real dent in Hollywood via 1997’s Boogie Nights, a tale set in late 1970s/early 1980s Southern California. 24 years and seven films later, Anderson returned to semi-similar territory via 2021’s Licorice Pizza.

Set in 1973, 15-year-old high school student and actor Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) meets 25-year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim) as she works for a yearbook photography company. Despite the age difference, Gary hits on her relentlessly and slowly manages to break down her defenses.

Despite Gary’s hopes, this doesn’t lead to romance. However, the pair become close friends, so we watch their ups and downs as they go through a mix of situations that test their bond.

While not the most consistent filmmaker, I’ve mostly liked Anderson’s movies. His last effort before Pizza - 2017’s Phantom Thread - left me cold, and unfortunately, this one didn’t much work for me either.

Ostensibly a “coming of age” story, Pizza lacks much of a real plot, so it follows an episodic format. While this could succeed, the end result feels too long, too self-indulgent, and too pointless, honestly.

The relationship between the leads never became especially compelling, and we never got a great sense of what makes the pair click. The whole movie feels like it consists of Gary and Alana taunting each other with alternate romantic partners, mixed with random sequences that seem out of the blue and largely unrelated to the "plot".

The Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper) episode? Entertaining but irrelevant.

The Jack Holden (Sean Penn) episode? Not entertaining and irrelevant.

The scenes with the politician? An awkward attempt to shoehorn in some social commentary, with a weird nod toward Taxi Measure for good measure.

The entire movie feels like an excuse for Anderson to fetishize the 1970s of his early childhood. The film seems like an homage to the look and feel of that era's SoCal but it's all just production design windowdressing.

As I mentioned, I like Anderson's movies for the most part, and I hoped a return to the 1970s would spark his creativity. Boogie Nights remains his best movie, and Inherent Vice - another 70s SoCal based tale - is very good as well.

Pizza just feels like a random series of events in search of purpose and/or meaning. We spend time with underdrawn characters who bop from one escapade to another and never really grow or change.

Maybe "LP" becomes a good acronym, for the movie plays like a bunch of unrelated songs on an album. They're vaguely connected due to the relationship of the leads, but mostly they play as random tracks.

Outside of occasional moments of entertainment, this one feels like a snoozer to me. It's just far too padded with scenes that enjoy no real narrative of character purpose, so it feels like a long journey without much real payoff.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Licorice Pizza appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not real eye candy, the image appeared to replicate the source.

This meant inconsistent delineation, as Pizza opted for a slightly soft vibe to match the story’s hazy nostalgia. This occasionally became a minor distraction but in general, the film brought out good definition.

I witnessed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to manifest. Print flaws didn’t appear either.

Despite the period setting, the image went with a fairly modern amber and teal impression. Though uncreative, the hues worked fine given the production choices.

Blacks felt deep and dense, while low-light shots boasted appealing clarity. Despite the intentional softness, this remained a pretty good presentation.

As a coming of age character story, I didn’t expect much from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, but it managed to kick to life at times. In particular, the Jack Holden motorcycle stunt contributed lively use of the five channels, and a few other scenes manifested pretty good involvement as well.

In general, though, music and ambience dominated the mix. The soundtrack used these in an effective manner.

Audio quality satisfied, with speech that consistently seemed natural and concise. Effects didn’t often get much to do, but they felt accurate and dynamic.

Music varied somewhat due to the use of plenty of the era’s pop/rock songs, but these components largely appeared vivid and full. Ultimately, the movie offered a more than appropriate soundtrack.

A handful of extras fill out the disc, and Camera Tests fill a total of four minutes, 14 seconds. These show a variety of scenes shot to experiment with visual design. They offer intrigue, partly because they offer some alternate lines.

The Handman Scene runs two minutes, 19 seconds and gives us a cut sequence the follows a claim that Gary pressures girls for hand jobs. It feels silly and not very interesting.

Next comes a Fat Bernie’s Commercial that goes for 59 seconds. It shows another deleted scene where Gary and company shoot an ad. It works better than the tedious “Handman”.

Finally, Behind the Scenes occupies 10 minutes, 37 seconds and mixes still from the shoot and some video clips. Though not the most coherent presentation, it provides some compelling material.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Pizza. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

With Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson revisits the Southern California of his early childhood. Unfortunately, the end result feels like a disjointed series of episodes in search of real purpose. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture and audio along with minor bonus features. Hopefully Anderson will get back on track with his next movie, as Pizza just doesn’t connect.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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