Movie Review: Finding La La Land


2016 | 2 hours 8 minutes | Dir. Damien Chazelle | Lionsgate/Summit

In the first scene of La La Land,  drivers sit stranded in freeway traffic.  From the cacophony of car radios, a song emerges.  The passengers break into song and dance.  Every Angelino dreams about something like this.  It´s a great clip.

LA La Land opening scene traffic cars

La La Land follows aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they chase their dreams in LA.

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I heard rave reviews for La La Land since its Venice Film Festival debut in August.  When it opened in wide release on Christmas Day, I expected the freshest musical since Singing in the Rain to grace my eyeballs.

La La Land was good. But not Singing In The Rain good.

As promised, La La Land evoked Hollywood nostalgia.  Los Angeles hasn’t looked this glorious since 500 Days of Summer. Ryan Gosling completely erases any memory of the seedy scumbags he’s played lately with a heart- melting romantic lead.  Mandy Moore (not the singer) provides simple, elegant choreography.  Stone and Gosling act their bleeding little hearts out as starry- eyed dreamers.


But something about the way La La Land blended fantasy and reality didn’t quite dazzle me.  Preludes to a romantic first kiss culminate in a totally lame smooch.  Garish greens punctured dreamy sunset hues.  You don’t get to see the one- woman show Mia produces, but you do see Sebastian play a flashy concert.  The women’s costumes looked like they came from a discount store, while the men wore impeccable outfits. I know Mia is supposed to look retro.  But most of the time she looks like a bridesmaid.

la la land roommates.jpg

And THE ENDING TOTALLY STUNK.  Where does a fairy tale calling itself ¨La La Land” get off having a realistic ending?  I probably would have liked it better if I stopped after the delightful dream sequence.  Kind of how sometimes you gotta stop Moulin Rouge! before Satine dies.

La La Land had the sets, the steps, and the heart.  But not for the first time this year, I feel critics might love the nostalgia more than the movie.

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