Writer/Director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is many things –  charming, fun, sweet, a refreshing change from most of the movie fare these days, a love letter to old Hollywood and to the movies themselves, etc,  but there is one thing it is not – a great movie musical. And, to be candid, no amount of award recognition is going to make it one.

Full disclosure –  this review is based on a second viewing of the film; the first time around, in a Facebook posting, I admitted to being underwhelmed though I did call it enjoyable and stated there was much to like.

After a second viewing, I admit to liking it slightly more though some of the same problems I had before remained – Ryan Gosling’s  singing and dancing simply didn’t match up to that of Emma Stone (though his acting was fine) and, more importantly, the musical numbers simply didn’t burst off the screen and leave me enthralled, as really good ones can.

It would be easy to list a bunch of numbers from stage and screen musicals that leave a grin on your face and your toes tapping but since tastes differ I’ll only mention two that are personal favorites – “Moses Supposes” from Singing in the Rain” and, what is probably my all-time favorite, “Brotherhood of Man” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Watch those two and it is readily apparent that the musical numbers in La La Land,  as well done as they may be, can best be described as charming as opposed to delightful, a crucial difference as far as this reviewer is concerned; it is very unlikely we will be humming them years from now.

But because many of the positives listed in paragraph one above are present, and I did find it enjoyable, I am inclined to give La La Land six out of seven of my run-on sentences, which makes it very good but not great.

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Robert Suttle
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