While I love musicals, I didn’t think La La Land was the fabulous movie I had heard it was going to be. It’s a love story with a clever title and a clever twist. It’s mostly uplifting and gives you “warm fuzzies” throughout the film. Mia (Emma Stone) meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) for the first time on a crowded highway, each going to their respective destinations. She flips the bird at him for his reckless driving and he keeps it moving. After continuously running into each other, they decide it’s time to strike up a real conversation. They become friends, then lovers — and so the romance begins. Mia is an aspiring actress that can’t seem to land a role and Sebastian is a jazz keyboardist who can’t seem to get his career on the right track. She continues to get turned down at every audition she tries out for and he gets fired as a piano player at a popular night club and lounge on Christmas Eve by the manager, Bill (J. K. Simmons). Desperate for work, Sebastian takes on a position with a rock band that doesn’t play any jazz. He hates it but it’s a job. Eventually, Sebastian runs into a friend, Keith (John Legend) who has a jazz band featuring a new sound, Keith defines as modern jazz. Reluctant to join, Sebastian finally gives in and begins to throw himself into this very successful band. He abandons his dream of owning his own jazz night club where he plays endless jazz into the wee hours of the night. Sebastian’s objective is to save jazz, as it is beginning to die out. Mia, on the other hand decides to write and perform in a one woman play. She feels it will be her only chance at becoming a star actress. Their hopes and dreams which are all embodied around their professions, are light years away from each other.
The movie picks up when John Legend comes on board because the music gets better and the dialogue becomes more alive. Mia and Sebastian actually begin too share meaningful conversations and discover they have a dilemma. La La Land doesn’t have a huge cast and Emma and Ryan, who have several song and dance scenes are not the greatest singers in the world, however, they are excellent actors.
If La La Land wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, I probably would have waited for it to be released on Blu-Ray/DVD. It is a good story with good acting and good music but being a baby boomer, I’ve seen and am use to much better. BTW: the La stands for Los Angeles (where the film mostly took place and the second La represents a fantasy world, hence the term la la land. I do recommend the movie and even liked it. I just didn’t find it to be super great!
[La La Land is nominated for 14 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Music: Original Score, Music: Original Song (for 2 songs), Production Design, Sound Mixing and Writing: Original Screenplay]