As reviews for Licorice Pizza continue to trickle in, more critics are questioning the movie's central romance. Licorice Pizza follows the love story of Alana Kane (Alana Haim) and Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), who are 25 and 15 years old respectively at the beginning of the film. Many viewers feel that the movie is not critical enough of this concerning age gap.
Paul Thomas Anderson's newest film Licorice Pizza is set in 1973 and begins with a 15-year-old high school boy asking out the 25-year-old woman working as an assistant photographer at his school picture day. The movie is a comedy-drama and a coming-of-age story, with both the main characters evolving through their relationship with each other. It rarely makes note of their age difference – at least, not in the way that some viewers would like. The subjects of legality, morality and statutory rape do not come up.
Some viewers think the movie is missing something critical here. They want a story about this kind of relationship to at least address the room for exploitation between two people of such vastly different ages. Some critics are even complaining that this represents a double-standard, and that a movie about an older man and a younger woman would not be accepted.
Of course, the film has its defenders as well, including many critics who think that the age gap is addressed just perfectly. Here's a look at how the commentary has been going on social media.
YEAH! the trailers don’t allude to that at all i found out through a tiktok review!!— 🎄krampus☃️ (@itsspookyfox) December 3, 2021
Many people criticized the marketing of Licorice Pizza, saying it intentionally obscured the age difference between the characters.prevnext
Only One Not Laughing
No guys I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. Read the reviews for the movie. Most of them are about how the entire audience laughs during the entire thing.— sarah schauer 🦂 (@sarahschauer) December 4, 2021
truly baffled by the hype around Licorice Pizza since it truly is about a romantic relationship between a 15 year old and a 25 year old— daddy long legs 🕷 (@skimpysimp) December 3, 2021
Some people were caught off guard by the storyline, especially when no one else in the theater had the same reaction as them.prevnext
Alright the plot of the movie Licorice Pizza is fucking disgusting. How the hell did it ever get made? Its literally about a 25 year old grooming a 15 year old. This isn’t a fun artsy comedy, it’s the creeps who show up at high-school parties several years after graduating.— pseudonym (@Keptsosterone) December 2, 2021
like it’s just very sketch to me that because PTA is some undeserving film god, there’s no critique of a romcom where the love interests are 25 & 15………… uhhhh ok. also have heard there’s a VERY racist scene so… on high alert for people making this movie their personality 😬— kendell. (@scorpixrising) December 4, 2021
Viewers assumed that there was some unspoken artistic message in Licorice Pizza that was supposed to explain or provide commentary on the age gap between the characters. If that was the case, they felt it had failed.prevnext
That's he point of the fucking story. If he was of age it wouldn't work for this story.— PaulElroy19 (@PElroy19) November 28, 2021
Others got the exact opposite impression – that the age gap was central to the story and that all the commentary on it was self-evidence.prevnext
I was so hype for Licorice Pizza but NO ONE told me it was about a relationship between a 25 year old woman and a 15 year old boy???? Why are we STILL making movies that romanticize this shit STOP IT— Anna wants NWSL Bay Area (@gnocci_fc) December 3, 2021
Still, regardless of the filmmaker's intentions, some critics feared that this movie would only serve to romanticize vast age differences in relationships, justifying real-life manipulation somewhere down the line.prevnext
Would it be inane if it were a 25-year-old man starting a romance with a 15-year-old girl?— Witney Seibold (@WitneySeibold) November 21, 2021
Arguments broke out in the comments to defenders of this film as people accused them of enforcing a double standard. They felt certain that the discourse would look completely different if the characters' genders were swapped.prevnext
Real Life Example
Can't believe how many ppl are defending the plot of Licorice Pizza, calling it an "age gap romance". 15/25 is not an "age gap romance".
Here are two actors who are actually 25 & 15. As you can plainly see, this is an adult, and a child. pic.twitter.com/iU2khUm6i2— Caitlin (@ThereWillBStars) November 26, 2021
Critics posted photos of real-life 25-year-old women beside real-life 15-year-old boys to drive home the strangeness of this plot. They thought that if the actors had been cast in their real ages, the romance would have been played more honestly.prev