In Love with LA LA LAND


No-Spoilers Movie Reviews

My sister laughed when I voiced my disappointment that a friend wasn’t interested in seeing La La Land with me.

“Not everyone loves musicals,” Hazel said. “I wish you were here. I’d go with you.”

She’s in California. I’m in Colorado. Our fondness for the genre is one of the many bonds we share from childhood. Credit goes to our mother, who sat down with us to watch musicals starring Doris Day, Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, The Andrews Sisters, and others.

I did find another friend who was enthusiastic to see La La Land, and the theater filled quickly with people of all ages.

Afterward, I discovered many other friends and co-workers loved, or expected to love, this film about an actress and jazz musician in Los Angeles who fall in love while pursuing their artistic dreams.

A Facebook friend replied to my post about the movie: “It was so good and so romantic!”

La La Land is a love letter not just to musicals, but to the Los Angeles of yesteryear: a sunshiny place of innocence and hopefulness. The film’s exuberance for all that life has to offer – both the ups and downs – is a balm for what ails everyone today. Especially for those of us trying to live creative lives while paying the bills and navigating our way through a society in which not everyone daydreams in Technicolor.

As Emma Stone‘s character, Mia, sings:

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

Sure,the filmmakers could have hired lead actors who are professional singers and dancers, rather than the hot, young people whose names grace the marquee. But Stone and Ryan Gosling are highly respected for their work (both have received Academy Award nominations for roles in Half Nelson and Birdman, respectively) and maybe, just maybe, their singing and dancing in La La Land, while not professional grade, helps the audience relate to them that much more.

We, the audience, could be in Mia and Sebastian’s place, singing about our hopes and dreams.

Go see La La Land and join me in congratulating writer-director Damien Chazelle, composer Justin Hurwitz, lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and the entire cast and crew for breaking a record at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 8: it won all seven of the awards for which it was nominated.

Katherine Valdez sings at home, in the car, and occasionally in the shower. Follow her at, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Medium.


  1. Like you, I have always loved musicals and Danny Kaye was one of my FAVORITES. Hardly ever meet anyone else who knew of him.

    Teresa R. Funke

    Author, Speaker, Writer’s Coach

    Find me on Facebook , Linked In, and You Tube or read my blog, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life at:

  2. Good movie, nice jazz, sweet love story, but that many Oscar nominations for a “musical” starring two people who can’t sing? I think I was expecting more scenes like the first one that was reminiscent of the musicals of yesterday.

    • I can understand your viewpoint, Mark. It’s more of a love letter to musicals. (Like Joss Whedon’s musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which I loved.) Thanks for taking time to comment!

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