Get down on your hands and knees right now and press your ear to the floor.
Can you hear that distant whirring sound? That’s Gene Kelly spinning like a torpedo, six feet under at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. Why? Four words: La La Fucking Land.
La La Land is a romantic musical written and directed by poor woman’s John Mayer, Damien Chazelle–the same Damien Chazelle that brought you the brilliant Whiplash in 2014. I don’t know what’s happened to Chazelle since 2014, maybe someone poured bleach in his ear while he was asleep, because this La La Land movie is a sad poo.
And yet everyone loves it! Personally, I hate it. And before you pigeonhole me a homophobe, know that I love musicals. Singin’ in the Rain, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Annie, bring it on, sister. I wish everyone broke into song mid-sentence and leapt on top of things to dance–everyone except Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone that is. They should have their feet nailed to the floor and their larynxes put in a canister and shot into space.
If I never hear Ryan Gosling sing through his goddamn nose again it’ll be too soon. He sounds like a pubescent Mr. Snuffleupagus. And Emma Stone’s whispery, watery, coaxing-the-cat-out-from-under-the-couch singing style is enough to make you take a bath with the radio. Oh, and the dancing–don’t get me started on the dancing. Stone can dance fine, I’ll give her that, but Gosling is more wooden than Sequoia National Park and he should be kneecapped. With the same training, my cousin, Clarke, could do a better job, and he’s been in a coma since 1997.
So the dancing sucks, the singing sucks, but what about the story? Is the story any good? No. It sucks. It’s about two struggling narcissists who sacrifice their love to chase their dreams. She wants to make it in Hollywood as an actress (psychopath), he wants to be a successful jazz pianist who gets the world excited about jazz again by opening a jazz club in Hollywood or something (douchebag). Whatever. It sucks.
Normally when a movie sucks I say to myself, “Well, that sucked,” and I go home and make some toast. But this flick is getting more praise than Justin Trudeau at a Tupperware party with a basket of kittens and an erection, so I feel it’s my duty to speak up and say, actually, no, this movie is not a “romantic homage to classic movie musicals, splashing its poster-paint energy and dream-chasing optimism on the screen” (The Guardian), and it doesn’t wrap “intense and delicate emotions in sheer, intoxicating cinematic bliss” (The New York Times), and it most certainly did not lift this audience member into “a state of old-movie exaltation, leading (him) to think, ‘What a glorious feeling. I’m happy again,’ ” (Variety). This movie is just a big, fat shit.
But while most critics are jostling to give director Chazelle a hand-shandy, there are a few who agree with me that La La Land simply does not rate. Liza Batkin gave it a swift kick in the peppers with her Vice review, saying “La La Land has racked up glowing recommendations because its glaring brightness provides a happy respite from the American political situation, which seems to get bleaker by the day.” Which is true, but if I was watching this movie in a fallout shelter with radiation seeping through the cracks and one can of beans left on the shelf, I’d still find nothing good about it. The legendary film critic Rex Reed hit the nail on the head when in The New York Observer he wrote that La La Land is “overpraised, overrated and disappointingly mediocre…The movie comes off as a well-intended tribute to the fabulous MGM musicals of the great Vincente Minnelli, made by people who have never seen one.” Ouch. Rub some liniment on that, Chaz.
By far the most accurate appraisal of the film, however, came from me, right now, when I wrote, “La La Land is a big, greasy, corn-studded turd that missed its mark and needs to be scraped off before it cements itself to the bowl.”
La La Lame.