Movie Review: La La Land – Musical Magic or Yawnfest?

Movie Reviews

The Prague Geezer Movie Review: La La Land – Musical Magic or Yawnfest?

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Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star as young lovers in pursuit of their dreams in this throwback to the Hollywood golden age. Despite winning 7 Golden Globes, I still wasn’t convinced so I headed to Cinema City in Smichov to see what all the fuss was about.

La La Land had scooped several Golden Globes by the time I reached the cinema to see for myself, so I did expect big things from the movie. I knew it was directed by Whiplash director, Damien Chazelle, and it starred Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who are fast becoming Hollywood sweethearts. It had a good cast and was well produced so it promised much, but Dirty Dancing aside, musicals have never sat well with me.

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The verdict

Right from the beginning with the freeway song and dance routine, everything felt unnecessarily out-of-place and outrageous. I know that musicals are supposed to be outrageous and unnecessary in order to prove a point, but this wasn’t the right point for me. I’m not sure why the car scene at the start was included, if not just to make up the song numbers. You could see that the section of motorway had been cordoned off for the scene and the point where the couple meets is lazily constructed.

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I thought the storytelling was lazy. She was convinced by her friends, with the help of a little song and dance, as you do, to go to a party. Once she got to the party, the friends were gone and she had to walk home. On the walk home, she went into a bar and found the love of her life playing piano. It just contains too many unnecessary songs and not enough about how the story happens and fits together. You want a detailed synopsis? Ok, this guy and this girl meet and he plays hard to get. He wants to open a bar but he has no money and she is an aspiring actress. They get together and have a montage of songs and fun (nobody ever works in the movie) until he gets an offer from John Legend to go on tour and earn money. The only problem is that he plays music that he doesn’t really appreciate. She then becomes a famous actress and leaves him and has a baby with someone else. In the final scene she walks into the bar he bought and they wonder what could have been. #Yawn.

As pretty as he looks, I didn’t find Gosling very convincing as a young jazz lover and his friend in the movie, a cameo by Jon Legend, just convinced me that musicians should often stick to the music. Gosling was good on the piano and I heard that he learned to play just for this role but he needn’t have bothered really. Emma Stone was fairly convincing as an actress in pursuit of a movie career but this was only because she looked as though she was about to burst into tears for 75% of the movie.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of musicals; I’ve seen many musical movies and many musical theatre productions. I suspect that La La Land will be a Marmite Movie; you will love it or hate it. Unfortunately I’m the latter and I’m baffled at how it received some of the awards at the Golden Globes. I do expect the buzz to fade away and other movie poignant movies to scoop the bigger awards at the Oscars.

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