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YMMV / La La Land

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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Damien Chazelle had a hard time getting the movie into production for years because at that time, studios believed it might not sell well because it's an original contemporary musical, the songs are unfamiliar and jazz musical is an extinct genre. Though he was able to find a studio to help him, they proposed several changes such as the male lead being a rock musician instead of a jazz pianist. Chazelle had none of that and put the project on hold until the success of his other movie, Whiplash, which got Summit Entertainment interested enough in La La Land that they finally got it in production. The movie was a critical success that earned numerous awards and did very well commercially.
  • Awesome Music: A modern day love letter to jazz musicals of the past? It was bound to get its own page.
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  • Base-Breaking Character: Sebastian big time. A lot of people love him and his passion about music, especially with regards to an often overlooked genre among the mainstream. Other people see him as too obnoxious and pretentious - especially his refusal to move with the times. Fans can't decide whether the latter is the Intended Audience Reaction or not.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The opening number, "Another Day of Sun", has absolutely no bearing on the plot, its style doesn't quite fit the other movies' musical numbers (with some being diegetic, some being fantasy sequences and the rest almost being actual conversations or monologues) and it leads to nothing. Tropes Are Tools, however; not only do some think it's one of the best scenes in the movie, it functionally establishes the movie as a stylized musical and its rules (its songs being exaggerated fantasies of "the real"), better allowing the audience to suspend their disbelief. There's also a bit of foreshadowing with the first singer bringing up how she left her boyfriend behind to get into show business.
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  • Broken Base: The ending. Is it a bold aversion of the usual Hollywood Happily Ever After, or a poorly-foreshadowed Diabolus ex Machina?
  • Common Knowledge: The movie has gained a reputation for being a musical "about how great Hollywood is". This despite the fact that it plays up the Horrible Hollywood aspect of the city - showing Mia getting continually disrespected at auditions, having to go to parties full of vapid and shallow industry people and having Sebastian call it "the town where they praise everything and value nothing". The movie overall has a very cynical look at Hollywood, which seems to have been overlooked in favour of the splashy musical numbers. The fact that the movie's Signature Song is called "City of Stars" probably doesn't help.
  • Designated Villain: Though open for interpretation, as his music itself is never presented as outright bad, but Keith might come across as one. Keith is a jazz musician who understands the traditional form of Jazz is no longer popular like it used to be, and to save the music, he must adapt to what the younger people are listening to today. He creates a successful jazz fusion band. Sebastian, the protagonist, is a jazz traditionalist who doesn't want to change anything and thinks anyone doing so is a sellout and a traitor. Keith is shown as nice guy and just as passionate about jazz as Sebastian, but the film makes it seem like he is in the wrong for wanting to change the music from what it used to be, despite jazz itself being a form of music that was created as something new and non-traditional and something that evolved over time, never staying the same.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Oddly enough, the film's producer Jordan Horowitz got a sizable fan base when he quickly took charge of revealing the Best Picture mix-up and helped the situation to be much less awkward than it could have been despite what had to be a violent storm of emotions that he was going through.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Inverted. The ending is supposed to be at least somewhat sad, as it's not a typical Happily Ever After, but both Mia and Sebastian got what they wanted in their lives before they met each other. If anything, they do have a Happily Ever After, just not with each other.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Relating to the Broken Base, there are quite a few fans who prefer to disregard the ending, or to imagine that the ending is part of a film shoot and that Mia and Sebastian's Imagine Spot within it is reflective of their actual lives.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Many fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda weren't happy with one of the film's two Oscar-nominated songs costing him the recognition of the fastest EGOT ever, though others still point out that he's a pretty young guy and has plenty of time to be up for it again.
    • An even bigger one has formed between this film and Moonlight (2016), especially in light of the botched Best Picture announcementnote . Fans of La La Land accuse Moonlight of being Oscar Bait only winning via angst and race politicsnote  and stealing the Best Picture award, and fans of Moonlight accuse detractors of Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch and consider La La Land to be overrated. There are, however, many people who loved both movies, starting with the teams behind both films - including directors Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins and La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz - who have been extremely gracious to each other and have fully supported their respective successes.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: At one point, Mia calls Sebastian "George Michael". While meant to be funny, the reference became awkward and unintentionally sad when the real George Michael passed away just weeks after the film's premiere.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The ending oddly parallels the Oscar incident.
    • This film's rivalry with Moonlight (2016) becomes this as of 2018, where Damien Chazelle's next film, First Man, is about the moon landing. For added bonus, Barry Jenkins' next film, If Beale Street Could Talk, has jazz elements in the original score.
    • The film reel of Rebel Without a Cause burning up, since its italian title is Gioventù Bruciata, which translates to Burned Youth.
    • Sebastian's character would be paralleled in Riverdale with Josie's father being a passionate jazz saviour. And in this incarnation, Josie and her family get a Race Lift to become black. Andre the Black Nerd joked that the show one-upped La La Land by being based on "the whitest of comics" and having the man obsessed with saving jazz actually be black.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • The film won the Critic's Choice Award for Best Picture, the American Film Institute's pick for 2016's best films, the most Golden Globe wins in history (seven!), and a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes... so naturally, backlash was bound to happen; the main criticisms being of it being not very revolutionary and veering towards style over substance. It's also received some accusations of racism (due to the feud between the white Sebastian and the black Keith over the future direction of jazz) - though this didn't stop the film from placing fifth on the African American Film Critics' Association's best of 2016 list. Saturday Night Live even did a sketch about the fans' tendencies to come down like a ton of bricks upon even people who call it So Okay, It's Average.
    • The Academy Awards only added fuel to the fire when the film racked up 14 nominations across thirteen categories, including two different nominations for Best Song, and ended up winning six of them. However, though six Oscars is certainly nothing to sniff at, it was actually a product of the backlash — the film was expected to perform a near-sweep and earn at least ten Oscars. The losses even in categories considered locks (e.g. Costume Design) led to it underperforming at the awards against expectations.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • A crossover with Metal Gear, "La Li Lu Le Lo Land"explanation .
    • The dance pose on the poster is becoming popular among artists, switching Mia and Sebastian out for their OTP and such.
    • "Use a BCC!" after an analysis of the numerous flaws of Mia's email about her one woman show, most memorably the faux pas of not using a BCC (a "blind carbon copy" which prevents the recipients of a mass email from seeing everyone else it was sent to).
  • Moment of Awesome: A meta one for Damien Chazelle as this film made him the youngest person ever to win the Oscar for Best Director, surpassing Norman Taurog who had held the record since 1931.
  • One-Scene Wonder: J. K. Simmons only has one scene and a cameo in the ending fantasy... but hey, he's J. K. Simmons.
  • Padding: The scene with Sebastian and Mia dancing in the observatory lasts for a really long time and doesn't really contribute anything to the plot. Similarly, Mia's Imagine Spot about how she could have stayed with Sebastian goes on for a while despite the fact it didn't actually happen.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Jessica Rothe, who plays Mia's friend Alexis (she's in green during "Someone in the Crowd"), would break out a year later with Happy Death Day.
  • Sacred Cow: As mentioned above, the fans can become so defensive that it was mocked on Saturday Night Live, in a sketch where Aziz Ansari is arrested and treated like a sexual predator for an offhand comment that he liked the movie but thought it had a few flaws.
  • She Really Can Act: While Emma Stone has been widely praised before, there were also many detractors who felt like she always just played the same kind of role. Those sentiments have all but disappeared after her Oscar-winning performance as Mia which takes her well outside her usual range.
  • Signature Song: "City of Stars."
    • "Audition", too, to a lesser extent.
  • Signature Scene: The scene of Sebastian and Mia dancing in the observatory, and it segueing into them dancing in the stars. It was parodied quite frequently, most famously at the Golden Globes between Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.
    • The image of Sebastian and Mia dancing during Lovely Night that was used on most movie pictures (including Mia's iconic yellow dress).
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The film has a very good Aesop to struggling actors - that you're unlikely to find success if you just wait for the right audition to come to you. Mia takes initiative and puts on a show of her own that does get the attention of one casting director, which is all she needs to get her big break.
  • Stoic Woobie: Mia of course. She dropped out of law school to become an actress and has to deal with nothing but dismissive attitudes and disrespect from the people she's auditioning for. She loves acting and can't catch a break, but she keeps on going, only breaking when hardly anyone turns up to her one-woman show. She thankfully makes it big in the end.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The film has been criticized for having a white savior narrative, via Sebastian's plotline of his obsession to save jazz.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Related to below, Keith to some, especially to viewers who find "Start a Fire" actually pretty awesome. There are also many who find his arguments, especially regarding the fact that the original Jazz artists were innovators so it makes no sense to be stuck in the past, to fall under Strawman Has a Point. It also doesn't help that Keith comes off as a genuinely nice guy, while Sebastian does... not. (At least, not always.)
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Sebastian, to some viewers who see him as a pretentious, whiny prick. This was even mocked by Ryan Gosling himself in his next Saturday Night Live appearance, where he goes on a cluelessly pretentious monologue about how "a white guy from Canada" saved jazz.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Aside from the Unfortunate Implications- and Unintentionally Unsympathetic-related backlash to the main couple's arcs, there are people who think the movie peaked at its opening sequence, "Another Day of Sun." Big-Lipped Alligator Moment it may be, but it's a wildly vibrant number — not to mention the vocals and dancing are actually professional-level rather than that of two actors who had to learn how to sing and dance better for the film, which is one of the most common criticisms anyway.


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