La La Land

La La Land ★★★★★

In 2006, I went to Disneyworld for the first time. I was eight years old. At the time, this was just a simple family vacation that was fun for the whole family. What my parents would soon realize is that first time at Disney would spark an overall obsession with animation. As a kid, I would rent and watch about any animated film I could get my hands on. I would take my notebook and sketch during church. All I knew is that someday, I wanted to create characters like Mickey. This is what led me to create Artpig, my own cartoon character that could go on his own journey.

In 2011, I was starting Junior High and my sister had just graduated High School. My sister is an aspiring author who's love was sparked by reading the Harry Potter series for the first time. My parents decided we would go to Universal to see Harry Potter World for the first time to celebrate my sister graduating. That would be significant to me as well. Not only did I develop the same obsession with Harry Potter, but an overall love of film. The place led to to watch some of my all time favorite films like E.T. and Jurassic Park. I wanted to be a filmmaker.

In 2016, I saw La La Land for the first time. I went out of my way to see it in Arkansas in November because it wasn't playing anywhere near me. 2016 is maybe one of the times I remember in my life being the single happiest. I had just been in Shrek the Musical for High School and was constantly doing thing with my troupe of theatre friends. When I saw La La Land, it stunned me. It just sparked my creativity, but it also refueled my passion for movies. I saw how musicals, something I had engrossed myself in the past and movies went side by side in such a seamless fashion to tell such a beautiful story of love, regret and dreams. Ever since then, I wanted to go to California and just see it- the place I knew I would spend the rest of my life someday.

In 2019, my family drove out to Anaheim California to go to Disneyland. Driving from Missouri to California (yeah you read that right we are insane.) My parents also decided we would go to Universal Studios Hollywood. A fun park but lacking in some of the other theme parks like Islands of Adventure or Epcot. It was more so a glorified area for a neat studio tour. That night, my parents decided that we would walk Hollywood. I had waited for this for a large portion of my life. As we walked, I realized something. Hollywood doesn't look like La La Land, it looks like Taxi Driver. It's a neat area with all sorts of movie memorabilia and ads and the Chinese Theatre is just emotional to be around in general. However, with the creepy sleezy people walking everywhere and trash thrown everywhere, it's not everything I expected it to be.

Today, I decided to rewatch La La Land. The portrayal of Hollywood in this film is shined and glamorized for sure. However, there is something sensational in that. Something quite frankly profound in this movie. It feels in a lot of ways like a fantasy films about the struggles in following your dreams. I think the scene that still chokes me up every single time is when Mia overhears negative reviews of a play she created. That hits home every time. People want to cage people with dreams and have them be "more productive" members of society. Pricks like Bill Maher who says entertainment is "just for kids" and to "grow up."

While La La Land shows the sacrifices and what ifs that come from following your dreams, it also shows you that self fulfillment is a good and healthy thing. If you feel something in your chest, you need to go out there and follow it because that is coming from someone.

I've had these crazy dreams of being a storyteller since I was 8 years old, and films like this rekindle that flame. I don't know how everything will work out, but I want to be able to feel like I did it-

I guess I could just be a fool who dreamed, but lets see where that takes me.

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