Suffice to say, that you will not have to look far, to find effusive praise for Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land”. Just don’t look here, because I’m not buying. In fact, I’m finding its popularity, and overall acceptance, somewhat bewildering. It’s an empty vessel. A case of playing the notes, but not hearing the music. Do you want to know what 2016 film TRULY understood classic Hollywood musicals? The Coen Brothers “Hail Caesar!”. Oh, but that razor-wielding satire actually made people think. I guess that’s a no-no. Needless to say, I’m not gaga for La La. I mean, sure the song “City of Stars” gets stuck in your head. But so does “Bohemian Rhapsody”…that doesn’t make it good.
Can a little L.A. road rage lead to a meet-cute? Well, it certainly leads to a musical number (“Another Day of Sun”) on a jammed southern California highway. Half of that opposing car encounter is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling…miscast?), a man who apparently is destined to be the savior of jazz, in a town filled with a bunch of sell-out black musicians. Yeah…right. Mia (Emma Stone…okay, I guess?) is an aspiring actress (I mean, what else?) who dreams of being SO FAMOUS someday, that she’ll be able to walk into a cafe, and INSIST…on paying for her own coffee. I’m not kidding. Then there’s some romance, some failure, the Griffith Observatory, some playwriting, some conflict, and a lot of singing and dancing posturing, that was obviously inspired by much better films. Stretched out over two hours.
I was impressed by Mr. Chazelle’s “Whiplash” a couple of years back, but I did find it over-the-top (chair throwing and bloody car crashes?). So, the guy has some talent. But “La La Land” is often just cliched and vapid. Even dull. I DO admire parts of the nostalgia. But I NEVER felt any real passion. I’ve RAVED about the brilliance of Ryan Gosling in the past. In a perfect world, he’d be getting more attention for his role in “The Nice Guys”. Emma Stone. Please, someone explain to me the allure of Emma Stone. I don’t dislike her…but what’s with all the hype? Well, I did appreciate her in “Superbad”…a decade ago.
I have other issues that I don’t even feel like skirting at this time. But if you’ve been paying attention…you’ve noticed. If I was a betting man, as of today, I’d pick this mediocre movie as the one that will get showered by Oscar. Best Pic, Best Director, and more. Whatever. Convincing me that this stands highest amongst a strong 2016 field? Fuggedaboutit. “La La” sure is a Lulu…but, again–that doesn’t make it good.