La La Land / by Kenneth Buff

5/5 Stars

5/5 Stars

For the last 10 years or so (maybe just 8...who's really counting at this point?) my wife and I have seen a movie on Christmas. The first one I can really remember seeing was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it was the first—anyhow, this year's Christmas movie was La La Land, a modern musical based on an original screenplay by writer director Damien Chazelle, who gave us 2014's Whiplash. Much like Whiplash this is a movie that blends comedy, drama, and does it in a way that feels fresh and fun, while simultaneously being a visual pleasure filled with great performances.

Now, it's almost deceptive to say that La La Land is a musical, even though by definition it is. I say that because there's never really been a movie like La La Land before, not in 50 years. It's not a musical that's trying to emulate the musicals of the 50's (though it does have visual allusions to some), it's simply a modern movie that's been inspired by them, in the same way that Indiana Jones was inspired by the serials of 1930's. It's taken an idea that's been done before, and modernized it, made it fresh. While all the musical numbers are great (and you'll be happy to know that there aren't an overwhelming, nor an underwhelming number of them), the film primarily cares about telling a good story, and the songs serve to strengthen the story above all us.

La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone as the two leads. They play a couple of artists (a jazz pianist, and an actress) trying to make their dreams come true in L.A. Both Stone and Gosling are great. They're committed to all three aspects of the film: the drama, comedy, and the music (Gosling and Stone learned to sing and dance for the film). They're chemistry is also great. We really buy that these are two 30 somethings who happen to bump into one another in the world and fall in love.

Overall, La La Land is a fun flick that's meant to be seen on the big screen. Do yourself a favor and grab some tickets.