La La Land is a tribute to the old school musicals where actors like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and many others impressed us with their acting, singing and dancing. They were top notch in whatever they did on the screen and truly were stars all around. However La La Land is not a particularly good tribute as it lacks a lot that made films like Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris classics.
So what went wrong? First and foremost the musical numbers are far from memorable. When I first heard the song City of Stars I liked it instantly. It easily is the best song but at the same time a very flawed one. Why? Ryan Gosling is not a good singer. I am sure he tried his best but you can hear that he can't sing that well. In another version of the song Emma Stone chimes in and I don't like that version at all because she is even a worse singer than he is. Both also can't dance and it's so bad that it was ruining the enjoyment. You can tell that they are struggling and their movements were far too slow. In the opening musical number you have a bunch of unknown people singing and dancing and they obviously know what they are doing as they move very swiftly and gracefully. They also do a lot of impressive stunt work very reminiscent of what was shown in the older musicals. And while this scene was good it exposed the flaws of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as leads. Especially in the first dance scene featuring Emma Stone it becomes painfully obvious she is not a match for anyone in the opening scene.
Another huge problem is the story. Or lack of. Nothing in the story was remotely interesting and pretty by the numbers and the one supposed conflict was so predictable and forced that destroyed all the hope that was left. What hope? For this film to redeem itself. And it never does. Instead it gives us an ending opposite of what is expected since director Damien Chazelle is pretentious and very full of himself. I guess the fame and success he achieved with Whiplash has gotten to his head. And Whiplash wasn't that good in the first place. And no I don't need predictable endings. What I do need are endings that are logical and are written well. It has to make sense why characters behave and act a certain way. You have to give the viewer reasons to make their actions believable. Chazelle never even attempts this. He only gives a motivation out of convenience. Also I am failing to see how anything in this film could be seen as comedic. There maybe were one or two moments that were genuinely funny but enough for this film to be advertised as a comedy? Not in the slightest.
Also just referring to the classics is not enough. You need to add something of your own to make it unique or entertaining. I mean these songs were the best they could do? At points they showed L.A. in the background and it looked like more was going to be done with the scenery like Michael Mann did in Heat. I think more beautiful shots of L.A. at night would have surely made some impact. But of course that would have required real effort.
I don't feel like writing anymore. Truth be told I was very looking forward to this film since I really was in the mood for some old school fun and all I got in return is anger and disappointment since this film is nothing like the classics.
Underneath the video version of my review: