“La La Land” ignites a love story on the streets of Los Angeles with musical numbers and jazz riffs. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this musical love story which differs greatly from his film, “Whiplash.”
Mia (Emma Stone), is a barista at the local coffee shop and an aspiring actress who wants to make it on the big screen. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who wants to open his own club playing “real jazz.”
Sebastian’s piano music at a local restaurant entrances Mia. Bill (J.K. Simmons), the owner, instructs Sebastian to play Christmas carols. He plays a jazz piece instead and gets fired. Mia tries to talk to him, but he storms out.
The pair run in at a party. Sebastian is playing an electric keyboard with a local band to make money. The band asks for song requests. Mia requests “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls and Sebastian despises her for it.
After getting to know each other, Sebastian tells Mia to write her own play instead of auditioning. He introduces her to jazz and she supports his dream of opening his own club. The two fall in love while watching a classic movie at an old-fashioned theater.
Everything is peaches and cream for a while.
“La La Land” is nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director. I’m not convinced that it deserves one Golden Globe.
Stone and Gosling have good chemistry, but the film felt clichéd and predictable with its different love and drama scenes. It was like someone plucked it from a daytime soap opera. Yawn!
Another problem was the film felt undecided on which time period to follow. The “La La Land” title card opened like a classic film. One musical number tried to imitate classic musicals, but was interrupted by the modern ring of an iPhone. It was as if the film wanted to be classic, but couldn’t resist going modern. This film even had the audacity to talk about and reflect “Casablanca.” Shame on them!
Some scenes were disgustingly corny. The first scene started with everyone breaking out into song and dance in the middle of the highway on top of their cars. In another scene, Mia and Sebastian floated and danced in the air at an observatory, with stars on the ceiling.
The ending was dumb and disappointing, constantly toggling between the past and present.
“Audition (The Fools That Dream)” was the only good song in this whole film. Stone sang beautifully about people following their dreams, something anyone can relate to. The rest of the musical numbers and dancing lacked heart and sentimentality. The songwriters should’ve taken notes from the songs in “Moana.”
“La La Land” lacked depth as a love story and musical. A good musical/love story should hold your interest until the very end. There should be songs that stick with you long after you leave the theater. “La La Land” failed horribly.
Studio: Summit Entertainment (2 hr. 8 min.)
Story: An aspiring actress and jazz pianist fall in love and try to fulfill their dreams in Los Angeles.
Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons, Rosemarie DeWitt, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Damon Gupton, John Legend.
Final Score: F+
This review was first published on Blackflix.