LICORICE PIZZA is a timeless story of Alana Kane (Haim) and Gary Valentine (Hoffman) growing up, running around and falling in love in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. Nominated for over 180 awards to-date including three Academy Awards®, eight Critics Choice Awards, and a total of 22 Best Picture nominations, the film is “an exhilarating reminder of what joy is like” (The New Yorker) and “reminds us why we love movies so much” (Slashfilm).
For in-depth thoughts on Licorice Pizza, please see my colleague Cassie Brown’s review from its original theatrical release here.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment brings Licorice Pizza to Blu-Ray with a really lovely 1080p video presentation that captures the throwback aesthetic of the film. The transfer provides a significant amount of depth on display, especially in the interior shots. The production design is bursting at the seams with period-appropriate details along with the fabrics of clothing which this presentation displays with crystal clear textural detail. The image is clean with the warm color palette presenting a pleasing nuance. The film employs nice splashes of bold colors within the production design, which makes for a very exciting image. The black levels are appropriately deep and inky with no major instances of compression detected. The flesh tones are natural with a magnificent amount of detail present in close-ups. This Blu-Ray is an excellent representation of this movie that should please fans, even if we wish there would have been a 4K UHD Blu-Ray release.
This disc comes equipped with a magnificent DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio presentation that absolutely dazzles from beginning to end. From the opening moments, the soundscape is set to deliver an expansive experience suitable for this amiable narrative odyssey through the lives of our central characters. Sounds are appropriately rendered with precise directionality from the more kinetic sequences to interpersonal moments of dialogue. Ambient details are plentiful and quite satisfying in the rear and surround channels which adds a nice sense of space to the mix. Music is one of the pillars of this film, and it envelopes the room with a warmth and nostalgia that elevates the film even higher. Dialogue is presented perfectly clear without ever being overwhelmed by any of the competing sonic elements. The low end is tasked more with adding texture to the mix rather than carrying any major moments. The mix is a rock solid experience for fans of the film.
- Camera Tests: A four-minute collection of pre-production tests and unused takes that showcase a bit of the filmmaking process with dolly tracks, camera slates, masks to adhere to COVID protocols and more.
- The Handman Scene: A two-minute unused scene in which Alana confronts Gary about some news she learned about his past. While it can be understood why it was cut, it is fun to see here.
- Fat Bernie’s Commercial: A minute-long faux-commercial for Fat Bernie’s Environmental Living.
- Behind The Scenes: An 11-minute featurette which takes a look behind the scenes of Licorice Pizza through a collection on-set photos and videos.
Licorice Pizza is one of the best films to come out of 2021, and stands tall in the incredible career of director Paul Thomas Anderson. There are some narrative choices that do not completely work, but the core relationship between our two protagonists is enough to make you overlook them a bit more easily. Cooper Hoffman is a dynamic personality in his debut role, but it is Alana Haim who you will be thinking about long after you have left the film behind. This film is a tremendous amount of fun with no shortage of developments that will leave you with a smile on your face. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released a Blu-Ray featuring a terrific A/V presentation and a couple of basic special features. While we feel the need to own the film either way, it would have been nice to see this one on 4K UHD Blu-Ray. Highly Recommended
Licorice Pizza will be available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 17, 2022. The film is currently available on Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.