Movie Review – La La Land

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My friend, Cathy, and I went to the movies, yesterday. We saw La La Land on the IMAX screen at Tinseltown in Gates. WE….LOVED….IT!!!! Period…..end of review!!! Just kidding…..you know I am NEVER that short on words! hehehe

So, La La Land is the story of Mia, an aspiring actress played by the adorable Emma Stone, and Sebastian, a die-hard jazz pianist played by the ever gorgeous “OMG, I’m melting” Ryan Gosling. Their story is set in Los Angeles and chronicles their struggles to fulfill their dreams amid the highly competitive and often depressingly disappointing world of Hollywood, music, and acting. Mia struggles through interview after interview with less than encouraging results in hopes of becoming a serious actress and finding that one big break. Sebastian struggles through gigs playing music he hates trying to save up enough money to open his own jazz bar to showcase the jazz greats of a bygone era. Mia and Sebastian meet and fall in love and sing and dance their way through their love story.

I love Emma Stone in anything I’ve ever seen her in and this movie is no exception. I described her as “adorable” in the last paragraph and I’d love to find a different word for her and her character, Mia, but adorable just plain says it all, so I’ll say it again…..Emma Stone is simply adorable in this role! Of course, Ryan Gosling is…..well, Ryan Gosling! How could Mia or anyone else, for that matter, NOT fall head over heels in love with him!!!??? I mean……look at him……and, then, he opens his mouth and gazes back at you with those amazing eyes and you’re DONE…..he has you in the palm of his hand for all eternity! <cough, cough> Excuse me while I get back on track, here! Both Stone and Gosling have won awards for their performances and the awards season isn’t over, yet……and, deservedly so! They reel you in and make you adore their characters……you want to know them……you want to BE them……you want them to have it all – their dreams, their love, their wonderful life together. AND……they do an amazing job with the song and dance routines……I knew Ryan Gosling was a beautiful ball of talent, but was pleasantly surprised to see that Emma Stone is, as well! The movie as a whole has won multiple awards in multiple categories……it is a real “feel good” movie where you can escape into a time long gone where musicals and the great song and dance teams warm your heart and lift your spirits!

The movie primarily focuses on Mia and Sebastian and the other characters are just supporting roles and cameos. But, it was a joy to see J. K. Simmons pop up as Bill, the dingy piano bar owner who fires Sebastian for going off the play list of Christmas songs he hates and breaking out into the jazz music he loves – after all, no one is listening, anyway…..except Bill, who was adamant that he stick to the song list or else! And I LOVED seeing John Legend as Keith, an old friend of Sebastian’s who asks him to join a new band he’s putting together to go out on tour with him…..I wish there was more of Keith, but that would have changed the focus of the story too much and I probably wouldn’t have liked that.

I also loved that it was a musical……in the old sense of the word – people breaking out in song and dance routines to demonstrate the mundane rituals of everyday life (i.e.: the opening scene is a wonderful depiction of a horrendous traffic jam on an LA freeway where all the “stuck” drivers get out of their cars and sing and dance in, around, and on top of the stalled cars) and to beautifully orchestrate the growing love affair between Mia and Sebastian (I particularly loved when they danced among the stars at the observatory). But, it is also enough dialog and regular scenes to keep the story “real”.

It is a story about true, enduring love……about dreams and the struggles to keep working through the mediocre to find the wonderful……about the trade offs and costs of achieving your dreams……..it is about love and loving what you do and being passionate enough about your dreams to do whatever it takes to reach for them……at whatever cost.

I really want to talk about the ending, but I have a firm rule against major spoilers in my reviews. So, I will just say that I was less than happy with the ending. I will also mention that there was a spot in the middle where it was starting to drag just a little – I found myself getting a tad bored and wishing it would just move on. But, the ending and the small slow section in the middle didn’t change my over all LOVE of this movie! I would pay to see it again, I loved it so much! So……all that said, I rate this movie a solid 4.5 out of 5 (it would have been a 5+, but I deducted just a smidgen for the ending)…….and, it met all my criteria for a great movie: I laughed, I cried (just a touch – not really a tear-jerker, but a couple scenes brought a few tears to my eyes), I fell in love with the characters, and I left feeling good……in fact, I left feeling like I should dance my way to the car!!! I highly recommend this movie…….all you hopeless romantics out there will be as enchanted as I was over it…….and all you lovers of musicals will find it refreshing and nostalgic for the old song and dance teams on the big screen!

After the movie, Cathy and I went to Rohrbach Brewing Company for a late lunch and had an incredible meal…..what a treat to top off a wonderful afternoon!

Here are two clips — the first is the movie trailer and the second is the main song from the movie performed by Gosling and Stone – it won “Best Song” at the Golden Globes! Enjoy!

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