Monday, January 16, 2017

La La Land: A Short Dissenting Opinion

As we were walking out of the theater last night after seeing La La Land, Katie-Bar-The-Door said, "I kind of liked it, but I didn't think it was great."

And I said, "I'm not even sure I liked it" and then added a little while later, "I'll bet I could name 100 musicals I liked better."

I did the next best thing. I did an advanced search of the Internet Movie Database against my own ratings for musicals. La La Land ranks 140th on my list.

My own musical Mt. Rushmore:

See La La Land, sure, but don't pull another The Artist and think it's the best musical ever just because you've never seen a musical.


KC said...

I think classic movie fans generally see this movie for what it is: a pleasant, easy-on-the-eyes flick with a nice score. Well done, but not meant to be a monster awards winner.

Mythical Monkey said...

That may very well be the essence of my problem with it -- after it cleaned up at the Golden Globe and has (so far) scored an 8.8 rating on IMDB, I thought, boy, this must something really special. And what it turned out to be is roughly Woody Allen's Cafe Society with some song and dance.

Also, as a technical quibble, I had the impression looking at the way the shots were framed that the director photographed it in a classic 4:3 ratio then cropped it top and bottom to turn it into a widescreen film. From the get-go, I kept thinking "if I were to look at a still from this dancing on the cars sequence, I'd think the cinematographer didn't know what he was doing."

I had that reaction over and over again.

Still, Ryan Gosling and especially Emma Stone are such appealing performers, you can't help but root for them.

Rene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rene said...

I was glad to read your post. I was disappointed by La La Land, and I almost thought there was something wrong with me. Here follows an excerpt of my post at

"I hoped La La Land would mark a new climax in the history of musicals. After all, IMDb gives it an 8,8, a score far superior to that of Top Hat (7,9), West Side Story (7,6), My Fair Lady (7,9), Singing in the Rain (8,3), The Sound of Music (8,0), The Wizard of Oz (8,1), etc.

Well, I was in for a big disappointment. And all the evidence points out to the use of a bad script.

First of all, it takes the movie more than one hour (81 minutes to be exact) to get to the main point, what most (good) scripts (under Hollywood norms) get done within twenty minutes. What a waste of time!

A second aspect is the waste of material that comes with the opening scene: a large cast dances around and on cars that are stuck on the freeway. Nice colors, interesting setting, good music, excellent dancers, blameless choreography. Perfect! The problem is that the scene doesn’t fit at all in the movie. In fact, it’s the only scene using such a large cast in such a setting. Conclusion: if the scene cannot be integrated into the script, the scene has to be cut.

One last thing. Whereas Emma Stone was perfect right from the start, I thought for quite a while that Ryan Gosling was miscast. It’s only when we get to the core of the story (a long eighty minutes, remember?) that Ryan Gosling gets a chance to express his acting capacities. Conclusion: Gosling was not miscast, it’s the script that was not adapted to exploit this actor’s possibilities.

So here we are. Although La La Land has good (hybrid) music and great actors, its ill-exploited choreography and bad script make it a mediocre movie that will probably be crowned with many Oscars."

Mythical Monkey said...

First of all, it takes the movie more than one hour (81 minutes to be exact) to get to the main point, what most (good) scripts (under Hollywood norms) get done within twenty minutes. What a waste of time!

That's a really good point. That was the one thing that worried me going in -- a running time of over two hours, which is a lot for a musical in the classic Hollywood style. More typical of the bloat that crept into 1960s era musicals -- the era that killed the musical.