MovieBob Reviews LA LA LAND

first_img Oh hey, look! An agreeable, well-meaning, perfectly adequate, decent but also lightweight and mostly forgettable movie being wildly overpraised presumably because it’s a pleasant distraction grounded in cinephile nostalgia and romanticism of Old Hollywood. Oscar Season comes earlier every year…Let me preface this by saying: The moment I originally got done watching La La Land I was over the moon about it – in large part because it finishes really strong. Whatever else you take away from me or anyone else about this movie, let it be said that it has an absolutely killer, elevating, devastating, knock-out home run of an ending. Bold, imaginative, clever… it feels like the kind of ending you’d make a whole preceding movie to justify – and I wouldn’t dream of giving it away. It’s as strong and transporting a moment as any sequence in any other film released this year; and since it only truly works in the context of payoff for the story that led up to it, it’s honestly worth seeing the film just to get said payoff.So yes. I walked out of that screening high on life and in love with the feeling the film left me in. I won’t deny that. And if I’d run a review right at that moment, it probably would’ve been an outright rave. But instead I’ve had time to think about it, and where I’ve arrived instead is that La La Land… just didn’t really leave me with all that much to think about.Not in the sense that it’s a simple movie – it is, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Simple is fine – often very powerful, as a matter of fact. But while the film is lovingly made, has a big heart that’s consistently in the right place and does eventually manage to actually “go somewhere” thematically; there’s just not much about it that digs in or even just sticks once it’s landed. That kind of lightweight fluffiness is absolutely intentional and clearly not the result of lack of commitment, but it’s ultimately so lightweight that no amount of commitment can really make most of it linger in the mind for very long. The most telling illustration of this? It’s a musical… but I couldn’t hum more than three notes of one song or repeat more than a handful of lyrics if you put a gun to my head.The central gimmick, at least, is clever enough: It’s an old-fashioned “making it big in showbiz” musical right out of the Golden Age but set in the present and applying the retro-gloss of genuine romanticism for Old Hollywood to an ironic romanticism of Los Angeles in 2016; illustrated by a bouncy opening number that imagines a sunny, joyful “spontaneous dance” sequence as breaking out in the middle of… a bumper-to-bumper L.A. freeway traffic jam. In terms of target audience, if you can get aroused by magic hour shots of Randy’s Donuts and Griffith Observatory, La La Land has your number.But whereas classic musicals of this type tended to focus on earnest young go-getters, our designated couple for this modern take turns out to be a pair of starry-eyed hipsters played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. She’s a studio-lot barista with dreams of Hollywood stardom; he’s an insufferable piano prodigy who wants to lead a revival in old-school Jazz. The sparks fly, and they’ve got chemistry to spare, but their love becomes tangled up in her attempts to stage a one-woman show and his temptations to “sell out” as part of a pop act to support her and… well, to be plain about it: Assuming you’ve seen one other movie about relationships in the entertainment and/or music industries you already know where this is going.To be certain: While it’s playing, out it’s a lot of fun. The leads are well cast; the half-old/half-new aesthetic is handsomely realized and it never quite dips below “watchable.” I’ve seen people compare it to The Artist in that they’re both a case of the movie industry writing love-letters to itself so that the increasingly L.A.-centric film criticism and awards scene will fawn over it, but The Artist was actually kinda crummy. La La Land, at least, is a solid watch and a gorgeous looking movie. Director Damian Chazelle absolutely knows what he’s doing and while the music from Justin Hurwitz just isn’t very memorable and that’s kind of a fatal flaw in a musical… if it had been especially “bad” I might actually have recalled more of it. And like I said: Holy shit, it’s building to a HELL of an ending.Like I also said: I genuinely enjoyed the act of watching this movie and I imagine a lot of people will feel the same way. It’s fun. Immensely likable… but also kind of disposable unless you really like Ryan Gosling modeling strategically out-of-date men’s fashion that much. It’s a good enough movie, and it wouldn’t be fair to hold all the undeserved accolades it’s probably about to pile up against it, but still only just good enough. MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Stay on targetlast_img