Musical films have a tendency to be corny and cheesy, something "La La Land" fully embraces as a facade for deeper meaning. The movie has song and dance, but also heart and drama, and a bittersweet message about pursuing dreams, something Oscar believers will love.

About 'La La Land'

"La La Land" is a musical romantic movie. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash"), the movie was released on December 9, 2016.

Mia, an aspiring but struggling movie actress, has several chance encounters with Sebastian, a determined but struggling jazz musician.

As they become romantically involved, they begin to see the world around themselves differently, and make different life choices to appease themselves and each other. Making it in Los Angeles is a challenge, though, and success is subjective.

An homage to the movies

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have played love interests in a movie before -- twice, actually. Their chemistry in "La La Land" is incredible. They play off each other so well, from their dancing to the little giggles and looks they seem to share. Without their chemistry, this movie wouldn't work; they're both Oscar contenders.

Neither would've been a traditional choice for this movie, though. Both can hold their own when they're tap dancing, but neither has a spectacular singing voice.

In some ways, this should take away from what's meant to be a musical landscape, but instead, it adds to the charm of two people trying to make it in an industry working against them at all times.

The first scene of the movie sets the audience up for something sappy and melodramatic, with a huge song and dance number in the middle of a Los Angeles highway exploding on to the scene with a rash of colors.

It creates a false sense of genre security, though, as "La La Land" rarely goes down that path again.

Instead, "La La Land" tugs tightly at the heartstrings, behind a piano motif that repeats itself throughout the movie. The melody isn't mind-blowingly complex, but quietly powerful in how effective it is at portraying character emotions.

The piano is the melodic heartbeat of the movie.

And despite not having very many featured characters, the emotions in this movie are raw. The audience gets to see an audacious rise to success and a depressing compromising of dreams, begging an important question: would you rather have the money to have a chance at your dreams or a dream that's forever on the horizon, waiting to be fulfilled?

While the music in "La La Land" was memorable, there wasn't necessary enough of it. "City of Stars" is a beautiful song, but nothing else from the movie sticks out a day, or even an hour later. The musical aspect of the film was overblown in marketing materials. Additionally, the movie was a tad too long.

As it entered its fourth act, it clearly began to lose steam. Adding an epilogue of sorts on top of that made its 128-minute running time seem protracted.

The film impresses with its ability to create an aesthetic similar to the Hollywood days of Fred Astaire, just like "The Artist" did in 2011; that movie won the Oscar for "Best Picture," and "La La Land" may follow in its path.

Movie Rating: A-