When I read that LA LA LAND was being considered as an homage to the great Hollywood musical, I went to see it and came away wondering why this film is being praised so much and is winning award after award.  I realise that a large percentage of audiences may not even know musicals from the classic era , and of course musical tastes change.

What I saw in this film doesn’t  compare in any way with SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. To put it bluntly – in my opinion – the two principals cant sing or dance and the music is mediocre. Of the few musicals made these days, the perception seems to be that the stars don’t have to be trained singers or dancers.

What’s wrong with expecting a song and dance number in a multi-million dollar movie to be of the highest standard? There is a number in the film vaguely similar to Dancing in the Dark from THE BAND WAGON, but the difference is like night and day.

Take me to town (to quote Ann Sheridan) if you want to, but remember that the film’s director and publicity invited comparisons.

The LA LA LAND bandwagon rolls on, and Oscars are on the horizon. Personally I need to watch a real musical, though I don’t really need reminding what an Astaire or Kelly or Powell can do. I’m even thinking that dubbing wasn’t such a bad thing!


13 responses »

  1. Really fascinated to read your comments on this film! I have not seen it yet, but have been really curious. The thing that has held me back was the fact that they couldn’t sing or dance. People keep telling me that I should not watch it as a musical… but then why the songs?

    I’m with you…why is it such a bad thing to have people actually dance and sing well? It’s like people are afraid that truly good dancing would be inauthentic (which strikes me as odd, since it’s not like other movies – superhero movies, etc – are so astonishingly “authentic.”) It seems more like a celebration of mediocrity.

    I just realized I’m ranting…I’m sorry! But you’re right – it does make one want to watch an Astaire or Powell or Kelly musical. 🙂

  2. Trouble is that a lot of the publicity compared it to the great musicals of the past. I just don’t understand how it has become so very popular.

  3. You’re a much more knowledgeable fan of musicals than I am, mind you most people probably are! It’s therefore interesting to read your take on what has been a very hyped up movie.
    The classic musicals have been the domain of fans on disc for a good while now, and I guess the stage has taken over as a the main area for fans to find new material. As such, from a mainstream cinema going perspective, it’s maybe not so surprising that less talented people are getting praise – a lot of the audience probably aren’t as clued in. With these kinds of genre revivals it’s always telling when the real, dedicated fans get to have their say – the quality, or lack of it, then becomes apparent.

  4. It’s sad really that the dancing and singing in La La Land is being so lauded. Though of course I accept that I am totally influenced by the music of Berlin, Porter, the Gershwins, Kern , and the great dancers of the past.

    • I guess the positive way to look at such a situation is that the praise heaped on the film may encourage more people to go back and check out the musicals of the past – I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but it can.

  5. I enjoyed LA LA LAND but at the same time don’t really disagree with you. Cognitive dissonance? LOL.

    As you note, the state of musicals these days seems to be to cast them with actors who can sing or dance a little rather than true musical stars — another example is LES MISERABLES — perhaps because the folks who have the chops (i.e., from Broadway) aren’t “box office”? I also wonder if it’s harder to put together a movie musical these days without having units with expertise like MGM had, where that was what they did, day in, day out. One of the weird things was I thought Gosling and Stone’s singing was fine, but they were drowned out by the instrumentals much of the time. Hello?! Others have commented on this to me, and the resulting difficulty understanding the lyrics — strange that those making the film didn’t notice the problem.

    It seems like perhaps it’s more the overall movie which has received praise than the specific singing and dancing? I noted in my review I did think the film was “oversold,” and I suspect it’s not so much admiration of the stars’ musical abilities but sheer happiness that someone made a musical, and a reaction to the film’s overall look/vibe. There was a lot I appreciated about the film despite my reservations, such as the film’s colorful Jacques Demy look, the lush treatment of Los Angeles, and so on.

    I went in expecting pretty much what I got. I liked it and will buy the DVD and watch again…but nope, it’s not the second coming of Fred and Ginger. LOL. I do hope that: 1) as Colin says, it will encourage others to check out older musicals — in fact I’ve seen requests for recommendations of older musicals on Twitter by excited filmgoers who liked the movie and discovered maybe they liked musicals; and 2) it will encourage more musicals to be made, and perhaps they’ll be made with stars with more extensive musical talent.

    Fun to discuss!!

    Best wishes,

  6. Thank you so much ,Laura for your detailed response. I had read your own review and realised we had very different thoughts on the film. I concentrated solely on the musical numbers because that is surely the heart of any musical. I should have said something about the film’s opening number which was very well done.
    I think you are right that Broadway musical performers just don’t have the star power for Hollywood.
    I guess my disappointment overshadowed any plus points of the film . The director did try to capture the look of Umbrellas of Cherbourg or An American in Paris.
    Something else missing was the kind of rich supporting cast we get in the classic musicals.

    I love your positivity, and as Colin said, maybe it will encourage folk to seek out musicals of the past.
    Thanks for stopping by.
    By the way, I now have Tall,Dark and Handsome so am looking forward to seeing it.

  7. Really enjoyed exchanging thoughts on this! I’d love to see more and better musicals in the future. 🙂

    Hope you find TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME as cute as I did!

    Best wishes,

  8. I agree with many points made by Laura about LALALAND having seen the film which I enjoyed. However I expected more talented singing and dancing from the principals who were outdanced and sung by the supporting cast. I wanted to see more of these professional “gypsies”.
    As for Broadway stars of today not having the “box office ” appeal to carry a Hollywood musical, wasn’t it common in the 30s and 40s era for talent scouts to see the Broadway musicals and bring the most talented singers and dancers in them to Hollywood where they became vey famous Hollywood names? Could that happen again, as cinema audiences want to see the best. The success of this film may encourage this practice to return.
    Finally, in my opinion, the best parts of LALALAND were the Jazz interludes. Luverly!

  9. That’s a great idea, Violet. If musicals make a Holywood come-back, new stars could be born from the musical theatre.
    Certainly in the past Hollywood poached so many Broadway stars – Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Bob Hope to name a few.
    thanks for your comment.

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