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‘Licorice Pizza’: Trailer, release date and everything we know about the Paul Thomas Anderson movie

Licorice Pizza
(Image credit: MGM)

No, Licorice Pizza is not the latest topping that some pizza conglomerate is trying to push; instead it is the title of the latest movie from Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s always an event when a master filmmaker like Anderson has a new movie, but there’s plenty to get excited for with Licorice Pizza beyond its director.

Here is everything that you need to know about Licorice Pizza.

What is the plot of ‘Licorice Pizza’?

Paul Thomas Anderson’s last few movies have been set in the world of 1950s London fashion (Phantom Thread), along Venice Beach following a pot-smoking private investigator (Inherent Vice) and submerging audiences in the world of a Scientology-like cult (The Master). Anderson is keeping things much simpler with Licorice Pizza, which he wrote, going back to the San Fernando Valley of the ‘70s.

The official synopsis is pretty simple: “Licorice Pizza is the story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.” The film will deal with first love and take a bit of a look at the world of child acting.

As for where the title Licorice Pizza comes into play, it is in reference to a chain of record stores in Southern California at the time the movie is set that would offer free licorice as well as the latest albums.

Who is in the ‘Licorice Pizza’ cast?

The entire cast for Licorice Pizza is filled with great actors and we will get to them in a second, but first we have to talk about Cooper Hoffman. Cooper is the son of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. The elder Hoffman was a frequent collaborator with Anderson, appearing in Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and The Master for the director, receiving a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for The Master. Cooper Hoffman, in his first film role, leads the picture as Gary Valentine. While it is a tall (and possibly unfair) task to fill his father’s shoes, it will be great just to see him add to the Hoffman legacy.

The young Hoffman’s co-star in the film is another newcomer to the world of feature films, as Alana Haim, a member of the band Haim, will play Hoffman’s love interest in Licorice Pizza, Alana Kane. Haim and Anderson have worked together prior to Licorice Pizza, with the director making a number of music videos with the band.

Then we get to the supporting cast, and it looks fantastic. Among the players Anderson has lined up for Licorice Pizza are Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Maya Rudolph, Benny Safdie, John C. Reilly and Ben Stiller.

Who is director Paul Thomas Anderson?

Paul Thomas Anderson is a revered filmmaker by most movie fans. Even if you don’t recognize him by name, you’ve likely recognized at least a couple of the movies mentioned above that he has done. 

Just to provide a full recap, here are the films that Anderson has written/directed thus far in his career: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice and Phantom Thread.

For his career, he has received eight Oscar nominations, including four for writing (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, The Master), two for directing (There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread) and two for Best Picture (There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread). He’s yet to win an Oscar and he is certainly due. Will Licorice Pizza be the ticket?

When is the ‘Licorice Pizza’ release date?

Licorice Pizza is going to be a holiday treat for moviegoers. The film will be released first in limited theaters on Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving. Then it will get its national wide release on Christmas Day (Dec. 25).

All materials for Licorice Pizza make sure to mention that it will only be available in theaters upon initial release; there will be no hybrid strategy with a simultaneous release on streaming for this film. However, with the 45-day window becoming a general (if not official) industry standard, it’s possible that Licorice Pizza could be available online as early as January 2022.

Is there a ‘Licorice Pizza’ trailer?

Licorice Pizza debuted its first trailer on Sept. 27. This look at the film highlights the humor of the film and the relationship at the center of the film between Gary and Alana, as well as the performance of the two young stars. Of course we also get some fun looks at Bradley Cooper and Tom Waits, among others in the trailer as well. See for yourself below. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.