Tuesday, January 17, 2017

La La Land has everyone singing its praises

Movie Title:   La La Land

Grade:  A

Rating:  PG-13, 128 minutes

In a Nutshell:  With a theme song that will be stuck in your head for a long time, this unexpected romantic musical feels like one of those magical movies Hollywood use to pump out decades ago.   

Beautifully shot in CinemaScope, it features the glamour, hope, sacrifice, pain, and dreams found in Los Angeles.  

It’s very entertaining and honest, already winning a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, as well as a big trophy for both of its lead actors: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “People love what other people are passionate about.” - Mia (Emma Stone)
  • Here’s to the ones who dream…
  • “You gotta give this everything you got.” - Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)
Things I liked:
  • Emma Stone’s face can show a thousand different expressions.  She is so charming that you just can't keep your eyes off of her in every scene.
  • It’s fun to hear some good jazz.  Sebastian explains, "You can’t just hear it; you have to see it.” 
  • I know they must be partially or even completely manufactured, but I loved all the pretty LA sunsets. 
  • Ryan Gosling.  Good on you.  He can do it all.  He actually learned how to play the piano for this movie.  
  • Ryan and Emma Stone have great chemistry.  This is not their first movie together.
  • I love the scene where they hold hands for the first time.  I remember those breath-taking moves from dates gone by.
  • It's really such a breath of fresh air. Keep those musicals coming.
  • John Legend!
  • Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Damien Chazelle.  Nice job!
  • I liked how the movie announced the seasons, reminding us how the seasons of our life come and go.
  • This film reminded me of last year’s film Cafe Society that makes you ache with love, regret, and longing.
  • Is this film a love letter to Los Angeles or Hollywood or being passionate about your dreams? Or maybe all three?
  • The musical numbers easily blend into the traditional storytelling.
  • The sequence at the end was done so well.
  • I didn't expect to see J.K. Simmons in a musical!
  • Mia and Sebastian go to the famous Griffith Observatory with a little nod to James Dean. Put it on your bucket list.  It has one of the best views of La La Land...I mean Los Angeles and Hollywood.
  • It's clever that there are 2 story lines...2 paths that could have been.  In La La Land a/k/a Hollywood, movies end with "happily ever after", but in real life...not so much.  So, which story did YOU think was the REAL movie?

Things I didn’t like:
  • I love Emma Stone, but I’m just wondering how much more fantastic this could have been with Anna Kendrick in the female lead role?  Maybe match her up again with Justin Timberlake like when they were together in Trolls?  Wow, can you imagine how great the soundtrack would have been?  As it is, Emma and Ryan aren't what I would call "powerful" singers.  If Director Chazelle was going for "sweet and simple", then he nailed it.  Some say that the "not perfect" singing was part of the point of the movie...everyone, even everyday people can make their dreams come true.  What do YOU think?
  • That string of hair that constantly droops in Sebastian's face.
  • The sound isn’t always quite in sync with the lips.
  • It was funny, but also super annoying how Sebastian would honk loud and hard when he went to Mia's house and pick her up. Really?  Be a gentleman and go to the door, Bud.
  • It conjured up images of great dance numbers with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, although not nearly as good.

Interesting lines:
  • “Why don’t you want to do it anymore?” – Sebastian
“Because I think it hurts a little too much.” – Mia 

Funny lines:
  • “This idea that we’re re-imagining Godilocks and the three bears from the perspective of the bears…it could be like a franchise.  There’s a lot we don’t know.  There could be 4 bears.  We don’t know.” – Carlo (the real screenwriter Jason Fuchs)
  • “It’s pretty strange that we keep running into each other.” – Mia
“It IS strange.  Maybe it means something.” – Sebastian
“I doubt it.” – Mia
“Yeah, I don’t think so.” – Sebastian
  • “You’re a real…um….what’s the word I’m looking for?” – Mia
“Knight in shining armor.” – Sebastian
“Weirdo…that was the word.” – Mia

Did you catch all of the Easter Eggs and tributes to other movies?
* The opening CinemaScope opening gives a tip of the hat to old movies from the 1950's and early 60's.
* Look at all of the pictures hanging in the cafe where Mia works and you'll see a bunch of celebrities eating or cooking food.
* Check out all of the movie posters in Mia's apartment.
* I love Ryan Gosling on the street lamp post ala Singing in the Rain.
  • The dance scene on the street at night pays homage to Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 
  • Guy and Madeline on a Park bench is represented by a scene where a movie poster rolls by Sebastian and Mia.
  • To learn about more, check out this fun video.

Tips for parents: 
  • This is pretty safe for all ages, but your daughters will probably enjoy it more than your sons.  It’s a romantic musical after all.
  • 1 F-bomb; otherwise, no other profanity. 
  • You see a couple living together out of wedlock.
  • Mia flips someone the bird (the middle finger).
  • Plan on listening to your kids sing these songs over and over again.

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