Going into La La Land my expectations were very high. Several people have touted it as their favorite movie of the year. Yet here I am watching it the following year … so it can’t even qualify for the 2016 Saw-ies Award.
I will give some give insight as to my frame of mind leading up to this movie since it impacted my opinion.
- If a movie is highly regarded by most, I will usually critique them more harshly. I spend more time trying to figure out what makes the movie great instead of enjoying it.
- My wife and I just started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is a musical-ish show. The musical scenes are a little weird, so seeing a few episodes the past few days set an odd expectation / tone going into a more “classical” musical.
So how did the movie fare with the anticipation and odd tone? I would give it 8 out of 10 piano keys.
Let’s go ahead and knock out the obvious, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have fantastic chemistry on screen. They were the saving grace of Crazy, Stupid Love and were more believable and magical than the original casting choices (Miles Teller and Emma Watson) could have been. I was even more surprised by the musical / dancing prowess they both showed. Hearing Ryan Gosling learned to play the piano after being cast is one thing, but seeing him play like he’s been doing it for years is another.
The music throughout the movie, notably Mia and Sebastian’s Theme and City of Lights, are the real stars of the movie. I personally was not a huge fan of most of the dances or musical numbers, but these two songs were the heart and soul. They played during the most important parts of the movie and then encapsulated everything you could want in the finale.
Because I was expecting a near flawless movie, La La Land dragged horribly until it built up some momentum with the meeting of our two characters. This was disappointing since the first portion of the movie was also the heaviest in terms of musical performances. When Mia and Sebastian weren’t together, I felt that most of the musical numbers fell flat. It could have definitely gone through another round of editing to help with the flow and drama between characters.
La La Land will definitely speak more to the dreamers of the world. In the end, the movie is more about what it takes to realize your dreams than a storybook romance. It is definitely a movie to catch in theatres to help capture the spectacle of the intended vision.
My favorite music based movie of 2016 would not have been La La Land, but Sing Street … so that is the movie I would recommend. It is a much rougher tale of chasing the desires of the heart except it makes up for it with a little more spirit and quicker pace.