Todd Gaines’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the reasons in my humble opinion the masses have gone Ga Ga for La La Land. The It Guy. The It Girl. A romance for the ages. The couple we all love. It's The Notebook without the sappy ending for the millennial generation. Take away Ryan and Emma and I'm betting most of you would give zero fucks about La La Land.
La La Land is being sold as the second coming of the Golden Age of the Hollywood musical. Yes, it's an ode to musicals of yesterday and old school Hollywood, but the singing is cruise ship quality at best. I would know this because I watched it on a cruise ship. The biggest error in La La Land is having John Legend actually sing. His vocals are far superior to all the other vocal performers combined. It should be expected, he's a platinum selling recording artist. But, it doesn't mask the weaknesses in the singing voices we hear. The Gos is down right weak, although he does play a mean piano. His piano playing is pretty fuckin' awesome, or perhaps, he just has that piano playin' fella look down to a science. Emma isn't as bad. She's a lovely lady with a sweet sounding voice. However, she's no powerhouse in the signing department. She's no Ginger Rogers and Ryan ain't no Fred Astaire. Yes, their dances are cute, but they're not Hollywood singing or dancing royalty. That's why La La Land shouldn't be considered one of the greatest musicals of all time. But, the professionally trained musicians who play musical instruments during the movie are spot-on. It's the fellas and gals you would expect to see in a hole-in-the-wall nightclub in the heart of New Orleans.
We've seen the plot in La La Land washed and rinsed, over and over again. It's a simple romantical movie. It's cute. The actors are pretty. Nothing happens that should surprise anyone. But, the story is all about dreaming big. It also helps the actors have natural chemistry, and their "love" story is a fun watch. I ain't gonna lie; the 80s pool party jam band song request moment, mixed in with JK Simmons going all Fletcher on The Gos and the romantical stroll to a fuckin' Prius; are all pretty fuckin' enjoyable. I'm sure these are just a few reasons why a lot of people have such a strong connection with the film.
As much as I've focused on the faults of La La Land; I can't deny how well made the movie is. Damien Chazelle is a very talented director. I love how he incorporates jazz into his movies. I love how he writes the movies he directs. I like the throwback Hollywood feel, and the set designs and wardrobe selections are absolutely gorgeous. Also, you can't deny how fuckilious™ his finales are. The motherfucker knows how to close a movie. He would be a lights out 103 MPH throwing closing pitcher if he played baseball. He knows how to go out with a bang. He knows the trick of intoxicating his audience.
Hell, maybe a lot of you had a high you can't explain after the credits rolled. I don't blame you, but I believe La La Land will not be remembered for what it won, but what it won for a minute, and then lost. A footnote in Hollywood history. However, we all like what we like. I've been asked by many friends to review this film. I might not love it, and that's why I'm giving this 3 stars. But, you have all the right in the world to go all Ga Ga Goo Goo for La La Land.
Chicken on a stick!!