|The only good dance sequence in LA LA LAND|
Damien Chazelle's musical fantasia concerns Mia and Sebastian who meet cute- giving each other the finger in a traffic jam and the have an on again and off again relationship. Its a boy meets girl story told in a Hollywood setting that has become a critical darling.
Why the critics love it is completely beyond me. The songs are weak, the dance numbers are unremarkable (looking like something someone who's never seen a musical might come up with), the male lead can not sing, and the script is about as vapid and empty as I've seen in any musical (and trust me I've seen some vapid musicals).
The only thing I can think of is that everyone is fooled into thinking the film is about something because the boy and girl don't end up together. Its the infamous way of getting a critics attention- turn dark in the end because then the story will be about "something" and be taken seriously.
The script really is awful. There is no weight to anything. The characters are simply moved around to a certain point where they insert a musical number. The dialog is just plain awful. It is so desperate to be hip and clever but its just stupid. Its all glib exchanges. One of the key plot points is that Sebastian won't date anyone who hates Jazz. Ugh. How old is he?
Which leads me to the fact that there are no real character only caricatures. Sebastian and his striving for the Jazz ethic is laughably stupid. While I know we all attempt to live by our code (my spouse must like Star Wars or video games or some nonsense) behaving like that on screen with that being the only really character trait just kills the character. I won't beat on the other characters because to dredge them up might mean that they can escape their bad canceled TV sitcom hell they escaped from for this one film.
Talking about bad TV sitcoms are we really supposed to buy the plot and what happens? None of it feels real. Events that happen at random and because Chazelle says it should. Griffith Observatory? Sure lets have our characters break in for the hell of it. Lets have the characters wander around aimlessly past really cool looking locations- why? Because they look cool.
The dance numbers are not all that good. They look like they are from some bad 1960's or 70's musical we don't really talk about- something like THE LITTLE PRINCE but set in Hollywood in 1967.
Look at most movie musicals and watch the construction of the sequences. The easiest thing to compare it to would be a Disney animated film like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (and it is a musical damn it). Watch how the small song becomes a big number and watch how when it goes big there is a reason we are seeing what we are seeing. We don't see characters or items from out side the castle or the town square or the tavern. There is a reason the sequence plays out as it does. Numbers set in the real world have to have a reason why things happen-but not in this film. In the opening sequence of the film you end up with all sorts of people just showing up out of nowhere- like bicyclists and people just wandering along an elevated high way...why? Where did they come from? No idea.
Outside of the one sequence where Mia dances with her friends before going to the party (see above) none of the musical numbers make sense within the world of the story- locations seem wrong, random or bring in things that don't belong there. Yes I know its a musical but even with in it's own world it has to make sense- this doesn't.
(And I won't discuss Ryan Gosling's voice-because as my friends will tell you the only one worse than his is mine.)
And why the hell is it always twilight with the exact fucking sky colors? Its midnight and i's twilight at the Griffith Observatory. People are going to a party at night- suddenly it's twilight again.
I'm sorry if you love the film but in all honesty, I was desperately trying to stifle laughter when I was seeing the film to the point I was getting glares from the few people at the other side of the theater. I'm sitting there watching the film and I'm biting my lip flopping around in my recliner trying not to scream for Mike and the bots...
It isn't a bad film, it's just not a really good one- and as for being anything close to a best of the year pick. Had it not been winning awards as the best film I would have thought it was a perfectly okay musical. Since it's heralded as a Best Film of the Year contender I think the statement "You must be f-ing kidding" best sums up my feelings.
Seriously this is a bad TV sitcom movie musical. This is the sort of thing you might have gotten away on an episode of The Drew Carey Show for one of it's musical episodes but not 130 minutes, I think director Chazalle knows it because in interviews he kept talking about the fear of being discovered a fraud.
You're not the fraud Damien, all of the people going gooey over you film are.
I think the reason the film is so big in Hollywood is not because it's a lovely romance- rather it's because its a film that says if I give up love and real relationships I can get the empty career I always dreamed of.
The big empty heartless LA LA LAND is a ca ca film.