I just walked out of seeing La La Land, and as a very quick review, I liked it very much. If musicals are your thing, this is an absolute must see. If they aren't, you should probably check it out anyway, unless you actively hate musicals, in which case, you should avoid this movie at all costs.
As the credits rolled, I was reminded of another of my recent favorites - Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, I'm serious. Stick with me here.
In our fiction today, we're very obsessed with plot. Was the plot compelling? Was it fast paced? Did it grip you? If not, toss the movie in the trash bin. Books get the same treatment.
The biggest criticism you'll hear about La La Land is that the plot is cliche and almost nonexistent. It's generic. And you know what? Those critics aren't wrong. But they've missed the point of the movie.
Let's hop over to Mad Max: Fury Road for a moment. People describe the plot of the movie as "A truck driver turns left." And they're right. There's no real plot to speak of: It's two hours of spectacle car chase, every shot used to maximize the action and keep the adrenaline flowing. No one is watching Mad Max for the plot. They're watching it for the spectacle.
That's how you should go into La La Land - and you should most definitely go. Every frame feels lovingly crafted, meticulously chosen, deliberate care given to everything from the street lamps in the background to the shoes on the character's feet. The minimalist plot serves only to get us to the next song or the next set piece - and the movie is better for it. More plot, more action, more character development leaves less time for the music, the dance, the sets.
Some movies, and some novels, aren't about the plot. La La Land sure isn't, and if its critics can get over that, it'll go down as one of the best movie musicals in modern history.