Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Some tasty 'Licorice Pizza' heats up eighth day of Movie Christmas 2021

Visit here for each of the next five afternoons -- Dec. 21-25 -- and (hopefully) find a little something about a film currently playing in or close to surfacing at a theater (or streaming service) near you in time for the holidays. We're calling it our "12 Days of Movie Christmas," and it continues here today right now. 

"Licorice Pizza," which takes its name from a '70s-era record store that's never mentioned and stars two actors making their first appearance on the big screen, might nevertheless still be the year's best film.

Certainly it's another freshly baked L.A. story from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, who has spent his entire life in the sunny San Fernando Valley and likely inherited some of his new film's joy and infectious spirit from late father Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson, himself a funny and outlandish TV pioneer.  

We old northeast Ohioans knew Dad very well as the hilarious horror-movie-host legend who decided to follow his pal, another Cleveland comic -- this one named Tim Conway -- to Hollywood, where both made it big. The former's major gig, of course, was as the playful voice of ABC-TV (probably most memorably in shilling "The Lo-o-o-ve Boat") and later on rival CBS, as the guy introducing that network's nightly "Bicentennial Minutes" for what seemed like an eternity. 

But back to his boy's movie, folks, in which just about everyone has a role, from the dulcet tones of Dodgers' icon Vin Scully, to a lightning quick cameo from Anderson regular John C. Reilly (as Herman Munster), to a more lengthy stint from "SNL" mainstay Maya Rudolph (Mrs. P.T. Anderson in real life). And, if ya really wanna absorb the term, "what goes around, comes around," know that Rudolph, as a talent agent, shares a scene with a director portrayed by Tim Conway Jr., of all people!

We can go on and on and on about so many other key players, including two memorably downright wacky turns from Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper. However, the only two names anyone needs to remember in this wonderfully cast kit and caboodle become Alana Haim (as in the rock band "Haim") and Cooper Hoffman, another talented son of a dearly departed legend (Philip Seyour Hoffman).

As aforementioned first-time movie stars, they mesh magnetically. Young Hoffman plays an extremely likable child actor and an always-on-the-go impresario to boot. Haim is a job-hopping, truly electric persona, trying to find herself while pretending not to fall for this confident kid at least 10 years younger than she is. Go out and savor such a deluxe "Pizza" when you can.   

("Licorice Pizza," now playing in select cities, opens Christmas Day, Dec, 25, only in theaters everywhere.)

Rated "R" by MPAA: language, sexual material and some drug use; 2:23; $ $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5 

Coming tomorrow (Day 9 of Movie Christmas 2021) 

And, if you missed our first seven offerings: "Nightmare Alley (Day 1)," "Spider-Man: No Way Home, "Swan Song," "The Lost Daughter," "Mother/Android," "The Novice, and "Sing 2"

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