Licorice Pizza is a 2021 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in their film debuts, alongside an ensemble supporting cast including Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, and Benny Safdie.
In 1973 San Fernando Valley, 15-year-old child actor Gary Valentine prepares for his high school picture day. He notices 25-year-old Alana Kane, a photographer’s assistant, and strikes up a flirtatious conversation with her. She rebuffs his advances, but meets him for dinner and they begin a friendship. Gary attends auditions and prepares for a press tour attached to a film starring Lucy Doolittle. When Gary’s mother Anita cannot take him to perform on the tour in New York, Alana chaperones him instead. On the plane, Alana meets Lance, one of Gary’s co-stars; they begin dating, but break up after an awkward dinner with Alana’s family.
Gary starts a successful waterbed company with Alana as an employee and assistant. While selling beds at an expo, he is falsely arrested on suspicion of murder and quickly released. When Alana decides she wants to try acting, Gary’s agent gets her an audition for a film starring Jack Holden. After her audition, Alana accompanies Holden to a restaurant, which Gary and his friends are also patronizing. Film director Rex Blau convinces Holden, a motorcycle enthusiast, to recreate a stunt on a local golf course involving a jump over a fiery ramp. An inebriated Holden brings Alana along, but she topples off the bike. Gary runs to her to make sure that she is unhurt while Holden successfully performs the stunt.
A gas crisis sweeps the country and the waterbed company fails. Gary, Alana, and Gary’s friends make one final delivery to Jon Peters’ house. Peters leaves to see a film, but not before threatening to murder Gary’s brother if the group damages his house. After setting up the bed, Gary floods the house before leaving with Alana. They are waved down by an agitated Peters, whose car has run out of gas. They drive him to a gas station, where he threatens a customer. Alana and Gary leave him behind, and Gary stops to attack Peters’ car, but they soon run out of gas as well. Alana maneuvers the truck backwards down a hill to a gas station.
Seeking a direction in life outside of her friendship with Gary, Alana begins to work on the mayoral campaign of city councilman Joel Wachs. Gary briefly joins her, but after overhearing that pinball will soon be legalized in the Valley, decides to open an arcade. Gary and Alana argue; Gary mocks Alana’s over-commitment to her work while Alana criticizes Gary’s immaturity. As Gary prepares to open his arcade, Wachs invites Alana for a drink. She arrives at a restaurant and learns Wachs is gay. Wachs asks Alana to pretend to be his partner Matthew’s girlfriend and take him home, which hurts Matthew’s feelings. Alana apologizes to Matthew and they share kind words at his house. Alana goes to Gary’s arcade to see him, but he has left to look for her at Wachs’ office. They reunite and head for the arcade, where they kiss and run out into the night. Alana tells Gary that she loves him