Yet Another Hollywood Con-job!
It ain’t “West Side Story”, which is quite possibly the best musical ever made.
It also ain’t “Singing in the Rain”, which is arguably the best postwar musical made in the Hollywood tradition.
It also ain’t “Top Hat”, rated by many as the best Rogers/Astaire musical.
It also ain’t “Moulin Rouge”, which was a riot of great music, comedy, genuine drama, and emotion.
And it ain’t even “Les Misérables”, arguably the finest ever stage musical which was ruined on film by a non-professional singing cast who could barely sing in tune, (Anne Hathaway excepted).
As with other ‘duds’ that were adored by the professional critics and film insiders, such as “Birdman” and the recent “American Honey’, it seems to be yet another case of the “Kings new Clothes”. Nobody dares to criticize.
We are told by the experts that La La Land it is absolutely brilliant and when we go to see it we will swoon in the aisles, barely able to find the superlatives to describe how much we loved it.
Yet if you scroll down the IMDb user reviews of this smash hit musical, in among the glowing 10 out of ten-star reviews, you will find a fair sprinkling of one-star reviews. (Two full pages of them). Not five or six or seven stars … no, just 1-stars among the 10-stars.
It doesn’t make sense – why do all these people give it ten stars and others only one, with headlines such as “Painfully Bad Film Musical”, “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To”, and “So Disappointed!” “Been There, Seen That” and “Visceral hatred for a con job”
If you are wondering why is it that some people can love it and others hate it – go and read some of the one-star reviews. The reviewers are movie lovers, (like me), and many are movie-musical lovers, (like me), and they intelligently articulate with tremendous clarity why La La Land has been ridiculously over-hyped, and why the endless publicity has simply turned 99% of the movie-going public into one enormous flock of sheep.
So what’s wrong with it?
In a single word, it is INSIPID. (Insipid: lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge; dull, vapid, flat….)
The songs are insipid.
Even though I am partial to jazz – and some of the jazz sequences with John Legend do sparkle – in general, the music score is mundane to a fault and the tunes are instantly forgettable.
The singing is insipid.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling do their best, but they are NOT professional singers, and I suspect you could find better singers at any local amateur dramatic musical production. The movie directors of old were smart enough to understand that if their stars cannot sing, such as Natalie Wood in “West Side Story”, then dub in a decent singer. How many people ever realized that Natalie didn’t actually sing those wonderful songs?
The dancing by Stone and Gosling is insipid.
Again, they do their best but they are NOT professionals. In some sequences, you can almost sense the dance instructors off camera shouting out “Stop! one step left! one step back!” and so on. They are soo… wooden.
The ensemble dancers are pretty much OK, but to be honest, there are no really great, original dance sequences that astonish and astound you- nothing that even comes close to the kind of stuff we have seen in the movie musicals of the past. Frankly, I can see better dance sequences every week in “Strictly come Dancing” or “Dancing with the Stars” than I saw in La La Land.
The story is insipid.
It takes forever to get going and for the first half of the movie you have to pinch yourself to keep watching these insipid characters playing out their thoroughly unoriginal, utterly boring story. You really don’t care what happens to either of them.
Struggling actress meets struggling jazz pianist. Pianist makes good, actress dumps him because he opts for “wealth and fame” over his musical principles – whatever that may mean. The actress gives up, and goes home to mom; successful pianist comes to the rescue and persuades her to go to one last audition. Guess what? She makes it and becomes a star, and the two stars go their separate ways.
What an enthralling story, don’t you think? This review hardly qualifies as one of those containing spoilers, as the story is so insipid.
Okay, so is anything good?
Yes – the cinematography and editing are good, as you might expect of a movie with a budget exceeding 30 million dollars. They can afford to hire to very best technicians that money can buy – and they do.
But a good cameraman and a good editor, and a good costume designer and a good set designer, and so on, do not a good movie make. These wonderful technicians were already let down from the start by director Damien Chazelle, who wrote the insipid story and by Justin Hurwitz who penned the insipid music.
If you’ve got nothing better to do, and like me, you hate all the Hollywood franchise trash that fills our cinema screens these days, then you might do worse than spend a couple of hours snoozing through this piece of insipid, sleep-inducing rubbish.
But if you expect to be uplifted and leave with a fine tune ringing in your ears, then you’re in for a major disappointment.
Unless you’re one of the sheep… baa aaah...
One Mobi-Star out of five for La La Land