A Sweet Comedy from . . . Paul Thomas Anderson?

Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
Licorice Pizza proves that when the art-house auteur wants to, he can make (somewhat) conventional crowd-pleasers with the best of them.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F or years, I’ve been hoping that Paul Thomas Anderson would turn away from art-house auteur fare, with its shapeless storylines, twisted, homicidal characters, and exasperating ambiguity. If only he would apply his talents to a standard Hollywood genre picture, I thought.

And now he’s done so. Sort of. Picture PTA directing Fast Times at Ridgemont High and you’ll grasp the vibe of Licorice Pizza, a sweet 90-minute romcom about young people in the early-1970s San Fernando Valley that also balloons out to include 45 minutes of interspersed riffing on various SoCal oddballs the youngsters meet while they’re trying to decide whether

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