In a recent blog post on, writer Patricia Puentes sang the praises of the 100-minute movie, something which many moviegoers can get behind.

Less bloated and often more enjoyable than movies that go way beyond the two-hour mark, 100-minute movies also have the distinction of causing less seat squirming and less watch checking.

Puentes’ piece ran just as filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson’s two-hour and 13-minute “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/UA) continues to garner acclaim and is poised to get some Oscar love when nominations are announced in early February. Yes, you read that right, two hours and 13 minutes!

Anderson is known for his epic, multi-character, Altman-esque projects, including “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” and “There Will Be Blood.” “Licorice Pizza” is no exception. Set in the San Fernando Valley in 1973, it’s the story of the unlikely romantic relationship between an aging child star (read: 15-year-old) and entrepreneur named Gary (Cooper Hoffman) and a resourceful, slightly older (read: 25-year-old) woman named Alana (Alana Haim, of the singing sister act). What he lacks in looks, Gary more than makes up for in charm. So much so that the out-of-his league Alana ends up with him, despite a series of roadblocks.

Among the threats to their relationship are flirty fellow child star Lance (Skyler Gisondo), Gary’s wrongful arrest (and subsequent release), bizarre interactions with casting directors (including one played by scene-stealer Harriet Sansom Harris), actors (Jack played by Sean Penn), and directors (Rex played by Tom Waits), businessmen (Jerry played by John Michael Higgins), the oil embargo and its impact on Gary’s waterbed business, a political aide and his closeted councilman boss, a terrifying (and too long) segment with an unhinged Jon Peters (played by Bradley Cooper), and personal disillusionment.

Hoffman does a decent job as Gary (based on actor Gary Goetzman), capturing both youthful exuberance and a flashiness that you may find alternately endearing and annoying. However, it’s Haim, making her feature film acting debut who is the most riveting. It’s easy to understand why the other characters in the movie are drawn to her.

Rating: B

Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the expanded edition of his short story collection How to Whistle (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.


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