La La La La La La La La Land

I could just rename this blog Mom Who Is Always Late to the Party and it would still be appropriate. But really, I’m just a mom who never has enough time to do everything she wants to do. I get to it when I get to it.

Spinning off from my mad crush on The Greatest Showman, as well as eldest child’s enrapture with Dear Evan Hansen, we decided to give La La Land a try. What I knew about this movie before viewing consisted of:

  • I think it won some awards?
  • There may have been controversy about casting?
  • It attempted to recreate the appeal and feel of old Hollywood dancing and singing sensations, like Dancing in the Rain.
  • Ryan Gosling? I guess? I don’t know…

No, I’m not one of those women getting the vapors over the Hey girl memes. Ryan Gosling isn’t my favorite. I’m not sure why, but he just doesn’t ignite a fire in my panties. I can leave him just fine and life would be dandy, and that’s probably part of why I took so long to get to this movie.

Mia (Emma Stone) first encounters Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) while both are stuck in an LA traffic jam. A dance number breaks out in the middle of this mundane scene, with wonderful continuous panning during a bright, happy song. I wish my drive to work was so spectacular. When everyone returns to their cars, the jam magically clears and Sebastian is stuck behind Mia, who is lost in thought practicing a scene for an audition. He lays on the horn, she flips him off… it doesn’t take a genius to determine this is their meet cute.

The roadmap to their relationship was laid out decades before these actors were even born–only the players changed. The fact that Mia (not Johnny) hates jazz and JAZZ IS LIFE for Sebastian is as predictable as could be. Or that Sebastian realizes he’s falling for Mia only when she has a new boyfriend. I don’t have a problem with this calculable tale. With movies like this, there’s a comfort in being able to guess this story line before it happens. A familiarity like a warm blanket and a hot cup of cocoa on a cold, crappy night. It doesn’t matter that they’re cookie cutter. I won’t complain if they’re all oatmeal raisin. They’re still cookies and even crappy ones are satisfying.

But… this was soooooo slooooooooow moving.

And Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are kind of sucky singers.

And not especially awesome dancers, either.

Don’t get me wrong–I couldn’t carry a note if my life depended on it, and my dancing isn’t much removed from Elaine Benes, but it’s not my job to perform either task well. There’s no money on the line when I choose to assault ears. Stone and Gosling… there probably could have been better choices made with stronger talents in the musical arena. Then again, maybe I just really dislike Ryan Gosling.

Everyone wins in the end. Mia becomes a famous actress and Sebastian gets his jazz club. There’s a brief Sliding Doors moment when Mia, through a last-minute change in plans, ends up Seb’s club one night. 5 years have passed since they split and she has her husband by her side (and a young child back at home). I feared that they would backtrack the entire movie and go 13 Going on 30 with the plot, but only 13 Going on 30 can successfully pull this off (SHUT UP, I say so, so it is) and La La Land retained its senses and only offered the alternative story line as a momentary daydream, rather than a we Punk’d you! I suppose it should have been sentimental and beautiful to me–how they could have had a lovely life together, if only they stuck it out, and both would have still achieved success. There’s probably something else I should be taking away from this glimpse into another life. But life is full of if only and even this piece of escapist cinematic art wouldn’t go that far into pure fantasy. La La Land sticks with what’s real, in the end.

I’m feeling very…meh about this movie. My eldest was equally unimpressed. While there was the Breakfast at Tiffany’s feel in the beginning (one of my bad mood movies), it fell flat. Obvious inspiration from classic movies and musicals aside, the songs were just…blah. Nothing super catchy. Certainly nothing running itself on repeat in my head. And the dancing was so…not awesome. Sure, they tap dance in the street, but it’s not even a cool scene. It’s more of a pigtail pulling, I-like-you-but-I-can’t-admit-I-like-you-because-being-obtuse-and-teasing-is-always-what-gets-the-girl kind of a played-out thing. And that’s old, in the archaic, crappy way. If you’re going to create an anachronism with a modern movie with a mid-century feel, that doesn’t mean the men have to be douchey. Take the best of now and meld it with the past, and make something better… like a man who has matured past the age of 12. We deserve at least that.

I have a high tolerance for shitty movies if there’s something absolutely beautiful about them, or unique in how the movie was made, even just location. I don’t have any such leniency for La La Land. I’m glad I don’t ever have to watch it again. (Bye, Girl.)


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