La La Land Wasn’t That Great

the title speaks for itself

After hearing numerous spectacular reviews, I finally got around to watching La La Land–the 2016 musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

The movie stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a young couple with dreams in Los Angeles (wow!). La La Land (according to the Wikipedia page) “won in every category it was nominated for at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, with a record-breaking seven wins, and received 11 nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards, winning five. It received 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, tying the record for most nominations with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950), and won 6 Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actress (Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song (“City of Stars”) and Best Production Design.”

The plot is simple. Young people fall in love, but their dreams drive them in different directions, so they break up and succeed at achieving their goals. I’m not a romantic, so I wasn’t upset that they broke up… at all. Like I couldn’t care less. And my immediate reaction wasn’t: (crying) “It’s so beautifuuuuuuulll!!!!!!!!! <sob> They didn’t end up together! <blow nose> What a unique movie for Hollywood!”

Let me clarify: La La Land was in no way a bad movie.
I can tell that they put a lot of work into making every scene aesthetically pleasing and colorful (which I strangely found obnoxious). The music wasn’t bad (but I don’t like Emma Stone’s singing voice, it sounded weak. Could they not find a better singer in California?). The message wasn’t awful. The acting was believable. The plot was all right. And I applaud Chazelle for attempting to revive the sinking Hollywood musical genre.

Despite not being horrible, La La Land was mediocre at best. The musical numbers were forgettable, and even the Best Original Score award it won felt undeserved. I found La La Land to be very bland and empty. In its attempt to be unique, La La Land came across as trying too hard and neglected a strong plot. The characters were dull and not matter how hard I tried, I could not sympathize with “Mia” and “Sebastian” or whatever their names are. Thus, I found myself very distanced, bored and apathetic to anything that was happening. The movie dragged, and even the big scary plot twist didn’t cause me to bat an eye.

While watching La La Land, I closely paid attention to my family’s reactions, they were far more interesting. My dad kept rolling his eyes and old-fashionedly using these words: pretentious, materialistic and stupid. My sister was surprisingly silent; normally, she gets angry if we talk during a movie. Although this is not my mom’s review, she summarized my feelings perfectly saying, “Movies are supposed to leave you with something. This one didn’t.” It felt unnecessary and pretty meaningless. Maybe that was the point of the movie… Yeah, I still didn’t like it.

As Ken Eisner from The Georgia Straight said, “Sometimes a movie comes along that is so different, so refreshingly light, so right for the moment that people can happily forgive it for not being very good.”