‘La La Land’ a Letdown, ‘Sing’ Surprisingly Soars
I wanted to see it while it was still on the big screen. Maybe that would have made a difference, maybe it wouldn't have. Our Hollywood movie critic Cecily Knobler has said it was her favorite movie of 2016. Almost everyone who saw it, raved about it. I longed to be one of those people. But for me La La Land was a letdown.
I yearned for it to be one of the best musicals I'd ever seen. The hybrid child of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Weber & Tim Rice, Kander & Ebb, a Flo Ziegfield & Busby Berkeley spectacular, costumed in a modern Los Angeles skin; that's what I anticipated.
I wanted the credits to roll while I was catching my breath and saying, "Wow, wow, wow, that was incredibly good!". But as we all know, life rarely turns out the way we think or wish it will. My reaction at the movie's resolution was a shoulder shrug and a verbal, "huh, so that was La La Land."
It had it's moments; the ditty "City of Stars" is still stuck in my head and the Griffith Park Observatory "dancing in the stars" number was beautiful. Other than that, I found the movie derivative, (think A Star is Born, which by the way is being made again with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper) and dreary, in a cautionary tale kind of way.
Yes, it is yet another retelling of the old, "everybody is brimming with dreams in the big bad city, but be careful what you wish for, because your romance could go to hell, while you're becoming a colossal star" story. Thank goodness I had a backup movie!
Sing was my second foray into movie musicals over the weekend and after the disappointment of La La Land, I was hoping for something, at least slightly better. My partner Ben, (who told me, by text, we couldn't be friends anymore unless I watched La La Land repeatedly until I loved it), said I had to admit that what I was in the mood for was singing, dancing pigs.
And I must have been, because what I got was singing and dancing pigs - and elephants, giraffes, gorillas, and shrimp, who were (I'm sad to say) a whole lot more amusing than Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
The characters were strongly written, marvelously voiced and the animation; bright, fluid and fun! The "squid power" scene (an homage-like nod to Disney's Fantasia, minus the classical music, plus Kanye West's Flashing Lights) is not only gorgeous, but actually transforms squid into adorable sea critters.
The soundtrack is something I must buy for myself. The Beatles' Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight is a new revelation as sung by Jennifer Hudson, Tori Kelly's take on Stevie Wonder's Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing was all-out joyous and Seth McFarlane's I Did It My Way was a hilarious, velvety dessert! And there was so much more to delight in.
See Sing with or without your kids and you'll love it either way! See La La Land with Ben and he can explain why he and the rest of the planet loves it so much! It's appeal was completely lost on me.