Last night we took the kids to see La La Land, which should totally be rated PG. The only reason this movie got a PG-13 rating was for a little salty language–one F-bomb and two middle fingers. If your kid has seen/heard worse with you in the car on a regular Tuesday, he/she can and should see La La Land. My daughter loved it, and now puts Emma Stone just behind Anna Kendrick on her list of favorite actresses.
I had gone into La La Land with mild-to-low expectations. This movie won a gazillion awards at the Golden Globes the other night. Could it really be worthy of all the accolades? Was the current backlash and Twitter outrage right? Was La La Land overrated?
The answer is: Yes and no.
The story is great. The use of modern day LA is wonderful. The acting is lovely. I didn’t even mind (too much) that the singing was subpar. Guys & Dolls with Marlon Brando is my all-time favorite movie musical, after all.
But my big quibble is with the music itself. It’s slight and unmemorable. The lyrics are wan and forgettable. It had me wishing for the cleverness of Popstar, honestly. The Lonely Island knows how to turn a phrase.
For much of the movie, I kept wondering how much better it would have been if a more skilled songwriter had been at the helm. I know Lin-Manuel Miranda can’t do everything, but bear with me. He wrote the songs for one of the other movie musicals this year–Moana–and now THAT is some music. Those are some songs. Go do yourself a favor and listen to “You’re Welcome” and “Shiny.” You’ll be singing them all day and you’ll be GLAD.
Hamilton is innovative and noteworthy because of the style of the music and the novelty of how the story is told, but it’s gets the status of greatest musical of all time (no hyperbole) because the songs are memorable. The melodies get under your skin. You find yourself humming them at inappropriate moments. One thing Miranda doesn’t get enough credit for: He writes great melodies for singers, especially women (see also: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana for evidence of this).
But this is a post about La La Land, which is a good movie that could’ve been great if the songs had been better, more memorable, and more iconic.
And you should take your kids.
I wrote a book! It’s YA novel, THE SOUND OF US. You can find the details right here! Kirkus calls it “a winning story about a teenage voice student that hits all the right notes.”
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