Top 100 American Movie Quotes of the 21st Century: #75

The actor:Alana Haim
The character:Alana
The film:Licorice Pizza
The quote:“Fuck off, teenagers!”

It’s not that Licorice Pizza felt super tight for me on the second go-round. It’s that the second time I watched it, the surprises were gone and so it all felt like it was on pace for something, felt like it was leading up to this change in Alana. There’s this new understanding, on the second watch, for the children playing adults in Southern California that’s not just “where are your parents?” but “there aren’t your parents.” The scene where Alana successfully pilots a truck downhill in reverse without gas in the tank is a little less thrilling; the scenes where she and Gary are most in conflict, like her bathing suit high or her brief dalliance with pseudo-Bill Holden, are richer.

What didn’t change at all was my appreciation for Haim’s talent with invective. “Fuck” is an art form for Haim in this movie, whether it’s as an adjective (“Then you’re a fucking Jew!”) or, more commonly, as a verb. My absolute favorite line is part of a scene that cannot be twenty seconds. Danielle and Alana are outside, and Danielle says to Alana, “Gotta stop fighting with everyone all the time.” Alana shouts, “Oh, fuck off, Danielle!” and starts to storm off, and that’s the whole scene. Despite how funny I find it, I struggle a little to express why that is about it compared to like, Bradley Cooper dropping a number of those bombs later in the film. (The funniest thing Cooper does in this movie, while we’re here, is to say “gas-o,” “car-o” and “Steve-o” in one sentence without breaking.)

It might just be because she’s small, and small angry things, from Jiminy Cricket to kittens, are just funnier than large angry things. But Alana Haim, as thin as she is, is not actually as short as I guessed. Compared to most American women, she’s actually kind of tall; the Internet says she’s got a good three inches on the average 5’4″ American woman. But she still looks absolutely tiny compared to anyone else she’s put next to in a shot where she’s standing. Cooper Hoffman is taller than her; Sean Penn and Benny Safdie are taller than her. Most importantly, her sisters are a lot taller than her, and they are some of the relatively rare people you see her standing toe to toe with in this movie.

The great irony in “Fuck off, teenagers!” is the obvious one. It’s what she yells at a bunch of kids as she hauls ass to the police station, runs into them, and then has to start sprinting again. The reason she’s going to the police station is because that’s where the cops have taken Gary, who has been arrested (…very, very incompetently, it’s great). The reason she knows Gary is because she is a sucker for the honeyed words he fires off at her while she’s at his school getting him checked in for his school picture. The other great line in this film is that one where Alana has a moment and says, more to herself than to Danielle, that it’s weird that she spends all her time with Gary and a bunch of teenagers despite being in her twenties. If the teenagers did fuck off, she’d have to spend a lot more time with the adults who turn out to be so uninspiring and dishonest.

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