Paul Thomas Anderson directs Cooper Hoffman, Alana Haim and Bradley Cooper in this romantic comedy about a teen child star turned waterbed entrepreneur who somehow attracts a grumpy woman in her twenties with no direction.
Maybe it is because the central romance is so unhealthy and unlikely that you cannot take your eyes away from it? Scenes happen that are so loved up and adoring that you wait for the needle drop, reality to kick back in, to be shaken from a pimply teenager’s daydream or a loser’s dirty fantasy for any kind of validation. But PTA never flinches… he holds on the strange allure these two improbables have for each other. Teasing us with every foul mouthed falling out and lingering on every slight adjustment towards a consummation we are pretty sure nobody in the cinema but a fictional teenage boy with too much moxy wants. Pretty sure but never certain. A series of stretched out vignettes set around Seventies’ LA that have the feel of Billy Wilder and Cameron Crowe about them. There’s a masterful patience and subversion here. Lots of “Easter eggs” to the PTA back catalogue too. The wit and energy and forbearance of this won me over very early on. I wanted to watch it all again straight away. I wanted to spend at least another 140 minutes in Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman’s gawky company. It looks and sounds terrific. It is a movie that coasts downhill recklessly but never runs out of gas. It made me laugh. Plenty. Last year there was no new movie I instantly fell in love with. I thought I was becoming jaded with current cinema. This year we got a bonafide classic in the very first week. Perfect.
Perfect Double Bill: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
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