Today’s Prayer Focus
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La La Land

also known as “Asiklar Sehri,” “Kaliforniai álom,” “Kalifornijos svajos,” “La La Land: Cantando Estações,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for some language.

Reviewed by: Jeremy Landes

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults Older Teens
Genre: Music Romance Comedy Drama
Length: 2 hr. 8 min.
Year of Release: 2016
USA Release: September 2, 2016 (festival)
December 9, 2016 (limited)
December 16, 2016 (expanded)
DVD: April 25, 2017
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Relevant Issues

pursuing one’s dream and the sacrifices involved

difficulties in getting your abilities noticed in Hollywood

Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films

dealing with disappointments and criticism in a healthy way

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music and dancing in the Bible

Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

CELEBRITIES’ VIEWS—What do “Hollywood” celebrities believe about spiritual issues? Find out

HOLLYWOOD DISCONNECT—Why is there a disconnect between “Hollywood” and the rest of America? Answer

CHANGE HOLLYWOOD—What is being done to change the values of “Hollywood”? Answer

Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films
Featuring Ryan GoslingSebastian
Emma StoneMia
J.K. SimmonsBoss
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
See all »
Director Damien Chazelle — “Whiplash
Producer Black Label Media
Gilbert Films
See all »

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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—…I was so deeply involved and affected by this movie, I found it difficult to go back to reality. Took some time to recover, and, yes, I’m a romantic at heart and love musicals, but mostly theatrical. Great job. It’s awesome to be pulled into story and dread the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Laurie, age 55 (Canada)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie, although, at times, I found it a little slow and the storyline somewhat wanting, occasionally. This is not your typical movie with a clearly defined climax and resolution, which is probably partly why it seems to appeal to an older crowd. It’s about relationships, and a lot of the interaction is subtle and non-dramatic. Probably the biggest excitement is when the couple has an argument, ha.

The acting is superb, as is the music, which I loved, as I really like musicals and am glad they are still in vogue. They try to emulate the old movies by having “Cinemascope” at the beginning, and there are a lot of retro-type things in the movie, such as one of the main characters having a tape player in his car and having to fast forward, which is quite familiar to those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Kathy Pj, age 56 (Canada)
Positive—I took my two daughters. My 13 year old is in chorus at school and was excited when I mentioned the title. My 11 year old wanted to see a cartoon movie. The three of us found it to be fully entertaining, though the storyline was a bit odd with its flashbacks and fantasy elements. I suppose we are used to a more straightforward plot, lol. We all enjoyed the singing and music very much!

With no mention of any religion at all, that is a non-issue. Yes, the couple seem to be intimate and possibly living together while not married, but there wasn’t a scene in this movie that I found objectionable. It was better than primetime TV in that respect. Language wasn’t too bad (worst was one “eff it” and a couple gd’s), decent film for most kids (with minimal parental guidance), but content probably most enjoyed by 15 year old+.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Hollie, age 40 (USA)
Positive—With all the blood, guts and firearms portrayed in the majority of Hollywood movies these days, it was refreshing to find an entertaining movie where no one got killed and nothing was blown up. If more movies (without violence) were produced, I am sure it will have a positive effect on the world. La La Land is a beautiful movie with superb acting and visual appeal.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Rockey, age 60 (Canada)
Positive—I'm writing because no one has mentioned the most powerful message of the movie: Don’t give up on your dreams, and find someone who believes in you to make them come true! A very similar movie to “Moana,” in theme—stunning images and amazing musical score! We were almost afraid to go see it because the industry was so excited about it, but my husband and I both left ready to dream with God again! There is no question that the Lord is using Hollywood right now to remind us to “be strong and courageous” no matter how rough it gets!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Angela Leigh, age 54 (France)
Negative—I somewhat agree, but mostly disagree, with Angela Leigh here. I didn’t want to put spoilers in my other comment, but I’ll do that here. ***SPOILERS*** If the message is not to give up on our dreams, then why does the couple give up on EACH OTHER? Aren’t they more important than their dreams? And the ending makes it obvious that they’re not fully over each other, so why did she get married to another man when she still had feelings for him? Sure, she got to be an actress, and he got to have a jazz club, but they sacrificed so many more important things to get there sooner.

The message is definitely not to find someone who will encourage you, because the relationship gets cut off. With more commitment to each other, both could have probably had their dreams in due time, just with more work.
Gabriel Mohler, age 27
Positive—My teenage daughter wanted to see this, so after checking into its content on-line, I took her. The movie is actually very clean, especially by today’s standards. Very little cursing, no sex, no nudity. The plot is actually quite simple, what makes it endearing is the characters and the actors. I really liked the banter that the two main characters had early on in their relationship. And, much to my surprise, the character of Mia chooses to do the right thing at the end of the movie. I won’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but when I saw how things were going, I assumed it would be the typical Hollywood cliché about chasing after your “one true love.” I was happy that the movie took a different turn. My daughter loved the movie, and it gave us a chance to talk about relationships.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Tonia, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Fantasy of Hollywood dreamland as well as the down side for those chasing the dreams of art and stardom. The film can’t keep up with the incredible opening number, but otherwise works the genre well, with lots of nostalgia, good romantic chemistry between the stars and the melancholy point that following your dream, even if successful, does not necessarily preserve love relationships.

Perhaps the clear fantasy nature of this film is why there were fewer adverse comments about the non-marital living together than about some films, but this may reflect the way for many young people marriage and babies come after careers are established. And it is about Hollywood. There are temptations for the characters to sell out or give up, as well as “grow up” but really no evil-doing happens, which makes the film a feelgood experience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Stanley Hirtle, age 72 (USA)
Positive—This is a great review! Thank you, Jeremy, for the “La La Land” synopsis and the recognition of its ability to bring the old Hollywood musical aesthetic back to life! As someone who is a fan of old musicals, in particular, Singing in the Rain, I was quite excited for the release of this film. For any musical lover, old movie fanatic, or rom-com enthusiast this movie is a new classic that combines these three categories into one. I appreciate your take on it, calling it an “attempt to breathe fresh life into the genre.”

Do you think La La Land provides the same sensations of the old-school musicals? It seems to me that La La Land shows more of a sadder, yet accurate view of life, whereas others provide a more blissful story ending with a long awaited profession of love.

The movie is developed in a way in a way that emits a nostalgic and reminiscent feel, and just like you said, the music can keep the toes tapping. There is something about the “glorious artificiality” as you called it, that makes the movie extra special. You expressed it perfectly when you described the movie as having an old-school musical vibe that tells a more modern story. It tells a story that resonates with viewers in this day and age (motivate by and relevant to experience), and makes watchers feel something they can relate to.See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Neutral—Although I enjoyed the movie, I was disappointed to find little reason for the lavish praise it receives. The plot was very simple, and the cinematography appeared to suffer from budget constraints; but my biggest complaint is the casting. Although the stars are attractive and talented actors, they dance like Bing Crosby and sing like Fred Astaire.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Brian Schacht, age 70 (Canada)
NeutralA disappointment for anyone expecting a “Musical“ along classical lines—poor singing and mediocre dancing—the plot vague and presentation disjointed in the modern fashion. Maybe a movie for narcissistic urbanites, but a bore for the rest of us.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Rob, age 80 (Canada)
Neutral—Costumes were my biggest distractions. No woman currently wears dresses every day and certainly not solid colors. All dresses were in jewel tones, and the same fabrics for all female characters from start to finish! Did production get these costume dresses at a discount price??! I found them very bad. Wouldn’t the same points have come across if Ms. Stone wore shorts and tennis shoes in a couple of scenes? Looked like a clown convention where all of the costumes were bought from the SAME supplier. Anyone else notice?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality:
Elizabeth Landers, age 50 (USA)
Negative—Umm… so yeah, I didn’t like “La La Land.” All the hype about the music and style is not overrated, but music and style should not be the only reasons we watch a movie. The romance in this movie is seriously messed up. And I don’t just mean because they live together before marriage, I mean because it’s all about following your own flesh. The characters make decisions with no regards for how it might affect other people, and they idolize their dreams at the expense of what’s best for them. There is also a strongly passionate, glamorous scene of emotional adultery.

It angered me that a film trying to resurrect a genre from cleaner days would incorporate modern romanticism into that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Gabriel Mohler, age 27 (USA)
Negative—Well made and not offensive, however, it takes a somewhat dark view of relationships. Basically, I thought this movie made me laugh and had a few nice moments, with an excellent musical score, but, in some ways, it was so bubbly and superficial that they had to make it end in a dark way to balance that out. ***SPOILER*** In some ways it boils down to a movie about unlikely strangers meeting, who seem to have nothing in common and who don’t get along and don’t seem to like each other. Then the main plot twist is that, surprise!… they really don’t get along and are not compatible. ***END SPOiLER***

I thought it was a big letdown. I thought that the movie started sweet, with good potential and enjoyable music. But to make a musical, it has to be “cool” for the cynical Hollywood crowd, so at some point the couple gets into an argument that is totally out of character, and then the relationship just tanks, which again, is supposed to be a twist, but is really unexpected given that we never really had a reason to think these people were that compatible.

However, the two people have had a discussion about following the call of their hearts, and so, in the end, we see the female lead married to someone who she does not seem to really love, meeting the male lead and making him regret not treating her better, but he has followed his heart, so they smile, as if, deep down, they still have a deep connection, even though they never married.

It just seemed like a cynical Hollywood way of looking at marriage and relationships to me. Like I say, nothing morally offensive, but I think it reflected a cynical view of love.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Jason Murphy, age 40 (USA)
Negative—The script is very disjointed, then really goes off the cliff with alternate endings. Very disappointing. Not worth my time nor money. I walked away feeling Hollywood has lost its bearings.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Mike, age 62 (USA)
Negative—I felt I needed an iPhone with an explanation of what was going on! Totally love-less and without expression—so sad.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: ½
Rosemary Wood, age 81/18! (United Kingdom)
Negative—Got about probably 40 minutes into it and thought that it was boring and overrated. I couldn’t believe that this film got 14 Oscar nominations. I mean it received the same amount of Oscar nominations that “Titanic” did. I mean come on!!
John Johnson, age 21 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Movie Critics
…magnificent musical… “La La Land” is suffused with a love of moviemaking so profound it tingles. …“La La Land” is a reminder of why they make movies. …
Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
…Stone, Gosling light up Damien Chazelle's romantic reverie… the year's most seriously pleasurable entertainment…
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…breathes new life into the movie musical…
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
…glorious tribute to old-school movie musicals… a celebration of the artistic drive that is also a daring feat of showmanship, as technically accomplished in its own way as “Mad Max Fury Road” or “The Revenant.” But its vibe is the opposite of mechanical. …[4]
Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
…Not perfect, but dazzling and distinctive all the same. …
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
…deeply romantic, lighthearted… this song-filled, cynicism-free romance is about as old-fashioned as it gets these days… [3/5]
Adam R. Holz, Plugged In
…Even more original and ambitious than it looked in the trailers, “La La Land” is a mixture of nostalgic musical numbers and compelling drama. While its leads have fantastic chemistry and the story draws us in, the song and dance numbers are occasionally jarring, landing the film at 3.5 out of 5. …
Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk