Thanksgiving weekend is theoretically all about family. Yet in terms of entertainment options – to consume with them or as a means of escaping them – the prevailing theme is heavily tilted toward nostalgia, with projects rooted in the 1960s, ’70s and’ 90s.
Music plays a sizable role in all this, not surprisingly, with director Peter Jackson’s multi-part documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” making its debut on Disney +, a few days after a film devoted to another ’60s act, the Beach Boys, hit theaters and on demand with the touching “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road.”
There are also strong musical undercurrents to the movies “Licorice Pizza,” an unorthodox look at Southern California’s San Fernando Valley during the 1970s, from directing author Paul Thomas Anderson; and “House of Gucci,” a salacious true-crime tale about the fight over the fashion empire that spans a period from the late ’70s (disco dominate the soundtrack) to the mid-’90s.
Finally, the weekend features a pair of made-for-TV movie reboots and revivals, with the CW’s “The Waltons’ Homecoming” – based on the 1970s TV show set in the 1930s – and USA’s “Nash Bridges,” reuniting Don Johnson and Cheech Marin two decades after the cop show cracked its last case on CBS.
That’s obviously a relatively small part of the holiday viewing feast, which includes the customary deluge of Christmas-themed movies (which seems to start earlier every year) and other nostalgic items like Disney + ‘s “Home Sweet Home Alone,” which strands another unlucky kid more than 30 years after the original exercise in bad parenting.
Here are a few meatier thoughts on some of these titles. And whatever you choose to watch before, during or after Thanksgiving, Bon Appetit.
In a way, “Licorice Pizza” is the embodiment of nostalgia without sentiment, capturing a time and place in the 1970s when Nixon was on TV, Vin Scully called Dodger games on radio, gas lines formed because of shortages, and a boss could brazenly slap the behind of his female employee without fear of repercussions.
At its core, the movie is a peculiar love story, one involving Gary (Cooper Hoffman, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), who’s about to turn 16, and the older Alana (Alana Haim, of the rock band), who finds direction in an otherwise unfocused life thanks to Gary’s get-rich-quick schemes, which include peddling water beds.
A few actual ’70s characters find their way into the pair’s Hollywood-heavy plot, with Bradley Cooper portraying producer Jon Peters as a wildly flamboyant lunatic who actually purchases one of the beds. Sean Penn also turns up as an actor (the name is changed, but only slightly) full of strange stories, although it’s not entirely clear that he can separate reality from his movies.
“Licorice Pizza” really doesn’t have much of a plot, playing like a series of loosely connected episodes, in a way that becomes more obvious during the second half. Nor does it really address some of the nagging questions about Alana, whose periodic tantrums are among the film’s only poorly written scenes.