'La La Land' falls short of hype in musical style

LLL+d+29+_5194.NEF

LLL d 29 _5194.NEF

By Cassidy Delahunty, executive entertainment editor
I always have and always will be a huge musical person. As a little kid, Disney musicals were always my favorite, and now I find myself dedicating most of my time to the theater department and planning out sets in my head weeks in advance.
This probably explains why I was so excited to see “La La Land” (see trailer below), an original movie musical that has already won six Golden Globes and been nominated for 12 Oscars. However, for all the hype, my expectations fell short.
The main plot revolves around Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), two people trying to make it big in Los Angeles. Mia dreams of being an actress while Sebastian wants to open his own jazz club. And, of course, there’s always the romantic not-so-sub plot.
“La La Land” definitely had its merits. The movie’s opening number is exciting and colorful and complex, exactly what the opening of a musical should be. The feel of the movie is very whimsical, and the characters are relatable and optimistic. However, as the movie progressed, it slipped off of the traditional musical path I was waiting for it to go down.
Mia and Sebastian’s initially hostile first interactions aren’t ever really resolved outside of a few small quips, and the two move very quickly from being almost friends to living together. While quickly-developing romances are a trademark of many stage musicals, “La La Land” didn’t really have enough classic musical elements to pull this off.
Choosing to go with a more traditional style of singing as opposed to the musical style, which is much more enunciated and exaggerated, made some of the songs hard to understand. It didn’t really feel like a musical despite all of the singing and dancing.
Along with this, many of the songs outside of the opening number were very slow and monotone. Ryan Gosling isn’t a great singer, and that’s not really a trait you can go without in a musical. While some have pointed out that the mediocrity of the singing could be an artistic choice to make the movie seem more realistic, this seems like more of an excuse than a choice to me. Just as bad acting can’t really be excused in a regular movie, bad singing can’t be excused in a musical. Plus, all hope of making the movie seem like real life flies out the window as soon as you cast big name stars like Stone and Gosling.
Don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy “La La Land,” and I’m excited for how successful it’s been. Overall, it was a pretty good movie, and I’m hopeful that it’s possibly record-breaking number of awards will lead to more original movie musicals. I just hope that future movies of the same type don’t try to make themselves “a musical for people who hate musicals,” because I love musicals, and I would love to not have to pay $300 every time I want to see one.