When Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” was first released in 2016, it seemed as if there was positive buzz surrounding it on all sides. I was mad at myself for waiting this long to watch it, because it sounded like exactly the kind of movie I would give my heart to. Unfortunately, I probably could have waited another year or ten to watch it and not be missing much.
This musical romance follows a struggling actress and a bitter pianist as they fall in love and try to figure out what they are doing with their lives. “La La Land” is a nod to Old Hollywood and smooth jazz in the twenty-first century, which others may have found charming but did not sit well with me. The tone and the time period did not seem cohesive to me. Maybe it’s because I feel no particular connection to jazz or classic Hollywood, but the nostalgia the movie seemed to be reaching for never quite hit its mark where I’m concerned. Instead, I felt almost jerked around as the movie flip-flopped from the modern day to a thirties vibe.
I also felt the musical numbers, overall, to be jarring. I adore musicals and I am completely on board with the singing-out-of-nowhere trope, but in “La La Land,” half of the numbers didn’t seem to have a good transition and weren’t entirely interesting. They were well done in terms of the vocals and the music itself, but they were simple and I found myself very disengaged anytime the characters began to sing.
Now, the characters themselves were fairly well-developed and interesting. I was certainly hoping for their success as I watched. However, I wouldn’t describe them as especially memorable or unique. In fact, my biggest critique of this entire film is that it seems to be lacking the thing that makes it different and memorable. Maybe the musical numbers are supposed to serve that purpose, but I didn’t feel it. The story, the characters and even the romance—it was all stale and done many a times before. Admittedly, though, I am fond of the ending.
While I am sure many people disagree with me (proven by the number of awards this film won), “La La Land” had some ups and downs but was mostly bland for me. I do not necessarily regret watching it, but I’m not exactly glad I watched it either.