Licorice Pizza is a romance, comedy, drama, released November 26, 2021. The story is set in San Fernando Valley, in 1973, and follows main characters, Alana Kane and Gary Valentine as they grow up and always find their way back to each other. Despite getting 90% on Rotten Tomatoes the audience reviews give Licorice Pizza 2.8 stars. Reviews saying, “If I could give it no stars I would.” and “This picture is probably a masterpiece.” With such polarizing reviews, we are left wondering if Licorice Pizza is a must-see or just another movie?

The divide in reviews appears to be coming from a divide in age, with older audiences appreciating the accuracy of life in the '70s and younger audiences feeling that the film glorifies social issues, including, racism, homophobia, antisemitism, sexism, and pedophilia. Older audiences seem to brush off the social issues by saying "that's just how it was in the '70s” while younger audiences argue that if we keep displaying such social issues in film people will continue to think that, "that behavior is okay.”

Personally, I didn't grow up in the '70s and I definitely lack knowledge of what life was like back then however I still very much admire the styling choice, and set design as it seemed very retro and unique, best described as otherworldly as I never lived in a time of wired phones, or gas shortages. However, in my opinion, the film was just eye candy, having highly impressive visuals with an underwhelming plot, I understand the representation of life in the '70s and what the visuals were meant to represent, but there were many positive moments in history the movie could have touched on such as the important civil rights movements including that of, woman, LGBTQ+, and Latinos. Instead, the film normalizes relationships between 25-year-olds and 15-year-olds, mocks Asian culture, and normalizes the sexual assault of young women.

Social Issues

I felt second-hand embarrassment for actor John Michael Higgins who put on a fake and exaggerated Japanese accent in an attempt to communicate with his wife who he later divorced for another Japanese woman. These senses are not only beyond problematic but also fetishize Asian women and give no enrichment to the plot of the story, only causing harm to the audience.

Another unnecessary moment was when an acting agent said repeatedly that the main character was beautiful with a Jewish nose, as if someone cannot be both beautiful and Jewish or that Jewish features are not beautiful. The film imposes beauty standards for no reason. I think the screenwriter meant this to be funny, but my family, and I just cringed.

Later on in the film character Jole Wachs (based on a distinct candidate for mayor of Los Angeles in 1973) Had a moment in which he was arguing with his partner. The scene was very stereotypical, displaying gay men as dramatic or emotional. The actual Jole Wachs gave his opinion on this depiction in an interview with GQ saying, “I obviously had some problems with it. Some of it was very real and some of it was fictionalized…We went back and forth with recommended changes in the script and when I saw the movie, the script had changed beyond that.”