La La Land (2016) Review

La La Land (2016)

Directed & Written by Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt

Music by Justin Hurwitz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

So, this movie got a record 1,582 Oscar nominations yesterday (roughly). I finally saw it over the weekend & knew instantly that it would get loads of Oscar noms as this is the type of movie that’s SO right up the Academy voters’ street (and butt). Don’t worry – I’m not going to be all “this is overrated!”. Those people who go around shouting “this is overrated!” are so overrated. This is a lovely film. It’s a good film. It’s not, in my opinion, up there with the all-time musical greats such as The Sound Of Music, The Wizard Of Oz, Singin’ In The Rain, etc etc etc. It’s good! I enjoyed it and really liked Gosling & especially Stone, who are as great together as always. But I think people will realize ten years from now that La La Land doesn’t come close to touching the all-time classic musicals. (It’s also far less of a “musical” than I was expecting!)

I found the movie a little uneven. It starts out with a big musical number that has such a different sound & vibe from the rest of the film that it feels like it’s from a different movie. It’s an okay number (not my favorite & I can’t even remember the music from it right now) but it sets things up to be this epic musical when all we get are a few more “big” song & dance numbers (I did really like two of these) and several smaller-scale musical scenes. I felt bad thinking that this movie was overlong and could’ve had at least 20 minutes shaved off of it (it’s 2 hours 8 minutes) but I don’t think I’d have been checking my watch if they’d had more scenes like the musical number with Gosling & Stone in the observatory. That one was lovely & it was one of the only times I thought the film came close to the standard I expect from a really good musical.

This movie didn’t seem to have a clear overall goal or, shit, I dunno… a clear aesthetic? Don’t get me wrong – I loved the bold, primary colors and I’m still trying to decide which dress of Stone’s I liked the most (probably the green dress in the above photo). But this didn’t always fit with the other imagery or with the music when the movie tried to be more “classic Hollywood” or tried to go with a jazz vibe. Damien Chazelle was possibly trying to cram in too many different artistic & musical styles he likes instead of sticking to one main theme or at least trying to make these different styles mesh together a bit better. Being a lover of film & classic Hollywood, I was naturally more attracted to the scenes such as the lovely observatory number that attempted to imitate this (although some of the classic Hollywood scenes were somewhat derivative) than I was to the brightly colored musical numbers that felt like some 1990’s Gap ad. Or, as my hubby put it, a Feist video. 

I think what’s possibly my biggest problem with the movie (this may get me into trouble to say but, hey, no one is reading this, right?) – La La Land is a bit too “Millennial Musical” for me to really see it as all-time classic. I can’t see me wanting to watch this 52 years from now the way I’ll still happily watch all 3 hours of The Sound Of Music. FYI – I did the math to find out that The Sound Of Music is 52 years old. Then I realized that I’m sounding like the grumpy old person that I am so I did some more math and realized that I’ll most likely be dead in 52 years anyway, so… Okay, I guess if you really love La La Land & I’ve offended you with my “Millennial Musical” statement, you’ll get the last laugh when I die of old age soon. πŸ˜‰

Summary:

La La Land is a good film with Stone & Gosling just as lovable together as always. I’m very happy for their Acting Oscar nominations and think they’re well deserved. I know I often come across as negative but I’m perfectly fine with all the nominations this film has received as I do think it’s a very good and, at times, almost fantastic film. It’s not like I could make a better movie! What do I make? Stupid spreadsheets! (Although I do make them almost as colorful as La La Land).

I just feel like some absolute masterpieces have actually been made in the past few years with little or no rewards while La La Land will likely win all it’s up for mainly because it’s the Academy voters’ type of “thing”. They love a musical and anything that celebrates their way of life. I truly wanted to love this movie. I wanted to be moved by a film that celebrates a “love of cinema & the arts” the way I was by Cinema Paradiso. Or perhaps The Artist or Hugo – these three films capture the filmmakers’ love of cinema in a way that La La Land never quite manages. I wanted the powerful emotional response I had to Arrival & to Room (btw – Amy Adams was ROBBED!!!). For whatever reason, though, La La Land didn’t strike a chord with me. It’s a lovely movie to take your mind off the rest of the world for a couple of hours but I didn’t walk out of it with that feeling of elation that I (and other movie nerds) get from only the truly best pieces of filmmaking.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Here’s that Feist video. La La Land is an enjoyable film but if you really don’t fancy it, I suppose you can just watch this video to get a feel for one of the three main vibes going on in it.

Plus this Gap ad:

And this is easily my favorite theme from La La Land. I do think this is beautiful and wish all the music in the film was as simple & elegant as this piece. THIS feels timeless:

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34 thoughts on “La La Land (2016) Review

  1. A very fair assessment there in my opinion.

    As I said in my review, I was waiting for that killer hook to make me “feel” the magic of this film but it just didn’t arrive for me. It’s good, enjoyable and well made but not the 5 star classic it’s been hailed as.

    I doubt if we’ll still be talking about it in five years time let alone 65 like “Singin’ In The Rain”, “Seven Brides” etc… :/

      • Lol! Well, if you lose followers because they don’t agree with you, I say good riddance to them! I hate people like that. We all like different things. (But our opinion is the right one on this one) πŸ˜‰

  2. I agree with you in general. La La Land is the Academy’s favourite “toy” shall we say. It is what the Academy would have chosen in a toy store πŸ™‚ I also think that La La Land is never there to compete with old classic musicals. It acknowledges them, surely, but it does its own thing, and for that it is also admirable.

    • Yeah, I do like that it does its own thing and “admirable” is a good word to describe its efforts. : ) Just wish I’d felt some sort of emotional connection to it. I did enjoy it and it was a lovely film to pass the time for a couple of hours, at least. πŸ™‚

    • Yay! We agree. : ) I really don’t remember that first song. All I immediately remembered was that main piano theme (which is lovely) and the one Gosling sings about stars or whatever. But I didn’t come out of the movie with songs stuck in my head like I would with all-time classics. It’s a nice movie, though, and I did really like the end (although it went on a bit too long). But I’m a sucker for a bittersweet ending. πŸ™‚

  3. I really loved this movie, but all your points are completely valid! I’m not a musicals kind of gal, so I didn’t have much to compare this to, but it’s made me want to check out some of the classics.
    And yes, Amy Adams was robbed! I like to think she’s finding comfort right now in the fact that us movie fans are outraged on her behalf πŸ™‚

    • I’m glad you loved it! πŸ™‚ And I can totally see why some do – it’s a lovely film and Gosling & Stone are always so likable together. I’ve seen a lot of the biggest classics when it comes to musicals but I’ve still not seen loads – it’s not a favorite genre so I’m certainly no expert. But I’m a sucker for great songs & the songs from this didn’t stick with me. And, yes – Amy Adams was SO robbed!!! Lol. I’m still mad about that. πŸ˜‰

  4. This is definitely a fair review, and, it didn’t strike a chord with me either. I’m getting traffic to my website with search terms like “Is La La Land overrated?” … and if you’ve read my review, the answer is yes. It’s a well-made movie, but the hype is a little over-the-top. I like what you said about The Artist and Hugo. You’re spot on with those remarks.

    • Yeah… I hate to call things overrated (and suppose I didn’t want to piss people off who liked this. But it IS overrated). πŸ˜‰ I’m not surprised as the Academy loves this type of thing. Enjoyable film and lovely at times but not an all-time classic. Glad you agree on Hugo & The Artist! Think I was just expecting something more like those but this one comes across a bit more… Shallow, I guess?

    • I’m glad you love it! πŸ™‚ I can see why some people do – it’s a lovely film and Gosling & Stone are sweet together. Was just hoping I’d love it too… Oh well – it was an enjoyable couple of hours. : )

  5. Great review! This was a lovely film and I really enjoyed it. However, I don’t think it will become a “classic” like “Singin’ in the Rain.” It will probably win all the Oscars, though. πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks! : ) Agreed – this was lovely and I enjoyed it too. It’s just no Singin’ In The Rain (which I actually watched with the kid last night – introducing her to more classics). She liked it more than La La Land. I figure kids are the best judges of these things, really! πŸ™‚

  6. I read the whole thing. But when I got to the part where you say Amy Adams didn’t get nominated, I got sick. I assumed she was and hadn’t looked. That’s crazy. Emma Stone but not Amy. No fking way. Anyway. This may be the first year I don’t watch the Oscars. I was thinking about dropping awards shows from my “accepted” forms of entertainment anyway. This sounds like the right time and the right awards show to do just that. Okay. The Sound of Music is an extremely well-written musical. La La Land couldn’t shine its patent leather sensible shoes. Not because of the story. The story is silly but still good. The songs however are incredible. I could play every song in that show before I’d ever seen it. Those are real melodies. I don’t even remember the songs from La La Land. But you’re right. The Hollywood community loves that sort of crap. Self-congratulating, self-referential, self-centered, shows about themselves. Oh my god. I’ve just described the Oscars. I hope The Academy and La La Land are happy together. They deserve each other.

    • Haha! I love your comments! I’m still pissed off over Amy Adams not being nominated. But, yeah – the Oscars are a load of bullshit anyway so I don’t know why they still annoy me sometimes. It’s not like Arrival will win Best Picture, either. It’s gonna be La La Land all the way. So damn predictable. Anyway! Screw the Oscars. They didn’t nominate Your Name for animated film, either. Or any songs from Sing Street (all extremely catchy & memorable, unlike the songs in La La Land). Wait. I don’t care. Screw the Oscars. (I’ll probably still watch it, though. I’m so stupid. Too bad all the BEST stars will be in the damn Tribute this year…). 😦

      • I just put up my Nocturnal Animals review. (why do I want to call it nocturnal emissions every time?) But I wrote it after the Oscar noms so there’s still some residual anger there.

  7. Well then. Based on the number of comments here already that agree with my thinking (that La La Land IS overrated) I guess I don’t have to say it . . . .

    Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash was a better use of music in film I thought. That film was so freakin’ intense. It was a pure adrenaline rush. And I think the performances were even better. But La La Land is going to sweep the Oscars this year. I just know it. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but this is the sort of stuff that makes #OscarsSoPredictable

    • Oh… Phew! Glad we agree on this being overrated (Although I was too scared to call it that because I honestly thought people would disagree & hate me. But it looks like most here agree with us anyway. Yay, us!). πŸ˜‰ Yep – Whiplash was a better film. It wasn’t trying too hard to be something it wasn’t. Or something like that. It felt more honest. And this will indeed win all the Oscars. #OscarsSoPredictable is an awesome hashtag. 😁

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