Reviewed by: Jeremy Landes
pursuing one’s dream and the sacrifices involved
difficulties in getting your abilities noticed in Hollywood
dealing with disappointments and criticism in a healthy way
|Featuring:|| Ryan Gosling … Sebastian
Emma Stone … Mia
J.K. Simmons … Boss
Amiée Conn … Famous Actress
Terry Walters … Linda (Coffee Shop Manager)
Thom Shelton … Coffee Spiller
Cinda Adams … Casting Director (First Audition)
Callie Hernandez … Tracy
Jessica Rothe … Alexis
Sonoya Mizuno … Caitlin
Rosemarie DeWitt … Laura
John Legend … Keith
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|Producer:||Black Label Media
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|Distributor:||Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films|
For the first forty years after sound was introduced to cinema audiences, musicals were produced regularly, so it was normal for actors to break out into song and dance. This is so unusual in today’s American cinema, that a movie like “La La Land” seems stunning in its bold attempt to breathe fresh life into the genre. Actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone seem like they’re having a wonderful time playing Sebastian (a jazz pianist) and Mia (an aspiring actress) in one of the most beautiful depictions of Los Angeles I’ve seen. Filmmaker Damian Chezelle (“Whiplash”) and his choreographers, composers, production designer, and cinematographer have delivered an extraordinary film full of color, song, dance, and sets with glorious artificiality.
Though modern audiences are unaccustomed to musicals with actors interrupting their dialog to sing and dance, amplifying emotions, director Chezelle makes it work, because these flawed characters are people we want to watch fall in love, have successful careers, and enjoy a happily ever after. From its opening number, amid a Los Angeles traffic jam, to its fantasy sequence at the end, “La La Land” seems like a new kind of movie from filmmakers who adore musicals from the past and want you to love modern characters through a new lens and color schemes (Cinemascope!). Vibrant, dazzling, and foot-tapping are a few adjectives that come to mind, and I expect I’ve just seen the future Best Picture Oscar® winner of 2016.
If you’re concerned about the PG-13 rating and wonder if your teenage kids should see it, Sebastian utters “the F word” once in a way that’s meant to encourage Mia, so she’ll stop caring so much about what others think of her. Also, as their romance develops, it becomes clear that they choose to live together outside of marriage. Some of the dancers wear short dresses and expose a lot of leg. The movie could allow you to have some good discussion with your kids about what goes wrong and why between Sebastian and Mia. “La La Land” shows us how falling in love can cause someone to feel like they’re floating in midair and no one else matters, and this movie lets you explore highs and lows that come when two people try to stay passionate about both one another and their art. You could have a spiritual conversation about the movie, but because the movie strives to be so entertaining, it’s a little hard to take very seriously in a spiritually deep way.
The movie doesn’t uncover great new insights about relationships, and, though its music is catchy, I don’t think any particular song is a show-stopper, like “Do Re Mi” from “Sound of Music” or “This Is Your Song” from “Moulin Rouge.” I still predict that if you see “La La Land,” you may have a great time, maybe a few tears, and may consider it to be a favorite date movie.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate to Heavy—f-word (1), “God da*n” (2), “Oh my G*d” (4), “Oh G*d” (1), “My L*rd” (1), “Swear to G*d” (1), h*ll (2), d*mn (1), “a**hole” (1), “a**” (3), s-words (3) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.