Happiness in movie form is La La Land. As we march towards uncertainty this week, there are some alternative programing: jump in a puddle, re-watch Barack Obama surprise Joe Biden, or spend two hours watching Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing, dance, and be adorable in different spots of Los Angeles.
The film starts with an opening musical number set in a gridlock on a L.A. freeway and never stops. The songs are grand and amazing, each capturing a different aspect of the L.A. life. “Another Day of Sun” shows the upbeat, cheerful side of L.A as well as the traffic. “Someone in the Crowd” has Stone’s character and her friends dressing up for a fancy Hollywood party and trying to get themselves noticed. “City of Stars” is a bittersweet song about dreaming while “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” is the hopeful counterpart about how you should never stop chasing your dreams. Even the instrumental pieces capture the romance of L.A.
Not since Grand Theft Auto V has a fictional piece made Los Angeles look so beautiful. The film turns L.A. into a character of its own, showing the fame and class of Hollywood, the wistfulness of the Griffith Observatory, and the plain fun of underground jazz clubs. It would not be surprising if the city started to use La La Land as its official tourism video. Even sitting in traffic looks like fun. Though the fun part of the movie is, at times, you cannot tell what time period the movie is set in. It has a great vintage feel to it, even when you can tell you are in the present day.
La La Land is also not your typical romantic comedy. Aside from the music, it does not have all the clichés that most rom-coms have. And along the way there are some twists and turns that keep you on your feet.
The film puts a big emphasis on the fact that Gosling’s character is out to “save jazz.” Yet, jazz is actually more relevant currently than in the past decade or so. Musicians like Kendrick Lamar and A Tribe Called Quest have incorporated jazz into their recent albums, setting off a new era for the music genre. While Gosling’s obsession with jazz may border on absurd, Gosling has enough charm to make it endearing.
Both Stone and Gosling are amazing which is good for a movie that essentially has only two roles. First of all, Emma Stone can do everything. She has so much charisma, a great voice, and even good dancing skills. Ryan Gosling is a surprisingly good piano player and tap-dancer. While he does not have the voice of an angel, somehow the songs are actually better for it. John Legend and J.K. Simmons both have small roles in the film, with Legend basically playing a version of himself and Simmons being funny as always. It is hard to imagine the film working with any other two actors. They are what make the movie so romantic and so funny.
While not giving away any spoilers, the ending can be viewed in two ways. Nonetheless, it won’t stop the movie from immediately putting you in a good mood unlike movies like Manchester by the Sea. Hopefully La La Land will bring back the movie musical because they are just so much fun to watch! It’s like floating on a cloud for two hours.