Licorice Pizza: streaming 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. It's the title of the latest movie by 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 about in this film 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, Los Angeles of the 1970s.

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.

When is Licorice Pizza available on streaming?

Licorice Pizza got a US theatrical release on Christmas Day 2021 and came out a couple of weeks later in the UK. Although in 2021 many major films got a streaming release a few weeks after their theatrical showing, it seems like the 45-day window might disappear along with masks and covid screenings.

Still, good things come to those that wait and the movie is finally released on Prime Video on Friday, 26 August, free to Prime subscribers. 

Who is in the Licorice Pizza cast?

The entire cast for Licorice Pizza is filled with great actors. But we have to talk about Cooper Hoffman. Cooper is the teenage 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 the 15-year-old entrepreneur Gary Valentine. While it is a tall (and possibly unfair) order to fill his father’s shoes, it's great just to see him add to the Hoffman legacy.

Hoffman’s co-star is another newcomer to the world of feature films, but not to fame. She's Alana Haim, a member of the Grammy-nominated rock band, Haim. Alana plays Hoffman’s much-older love interest, Alana Kane. Haim and Anderson have worked together prior to Licorice Pizza, with the director making a number of music videos with the band.

The supporting cast is jam-packed with stars. Among the players Anderson has lined up for Licorice Pizza are Bradley Cooper (who plays Jon Peters, a real-life hairdresser turned film producer who dated Barbra Streisand), Sean Penn (as Jack Holden, a character based on 1950s actor William Holden), Tom Waits, Maya Rudolph, Benny Safdie, John C. Reilly and George DiCaprio (father of Leonardo...). Alana Haim's sisters (and fellow Haim bandmembers) Danielle and Este also appear in the film, alongside her father Moti and mother Donna as Alana Kane's family.

Who is director Paul Thomas Anderson?

Paul Thomas Anderson is a critically-acclaimed filmmaker and writer. Even if you don’t recognize him by name, you’re likely to recognize at least a couple of the movies 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.

Prior to Licorice Pizza PTA had 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 Best Picture nominations, as Producer (There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread). Licorice Pizza gained him another three Academy Award nominations (Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay), but still no win.

Is there a Licorice Pizza trailer?

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

Licorice Pizza reviews

This is one of those films where the reviews from the critics and from the general audience diverge pretty wildly. Critics' reviews for Licorice Pizza are stellar. Currently, the movie sits at 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes but the general audience gives it a less enthusiastic 65%, not terrible but less impressed with the meandering plot and very long runtime. Audiences also took issue with the on-screen age gap between Gary and Alana and some of the use of 1970s throwback language and bigoted depictions.

Our What to Watch reviewer Todd Gilchrist was more aligned with the critics' consensus, saying in his Licorice Pizza review that Paul Thomas Anderson is masterful and keeps his unique style in this endearing tale of adolescent love.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.