Ah, romantic comedies: you either love them or you hate them. I am a sucker for romantic comedies, with The Wedding Planner, My Best Friend's Wedding, He's Just Not That Into You, and 10 Things I Hate About You being a few personal favorites. Romantic comedies have a reputation to be cheesy, unrealistic love stories with humorous characteristics. However, it's those features that make them lovable, in my opinion. The genre hit its peak in the 90's to the early to mid 2000's, with fewer movie releases as the years pass. But perhaps they are making a comeback.
In 2016 La La Land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling was released, making millions at the box office and winning multiple Oscar nominations and awards, considering the fact that it is a cinematic masterpiece. At first glance, though, I wouldn't consider La La Land to be a romantic comedy, but after examining it closer, I understand how it is a romantic comedy, but also what separates it from the stigma surrounding romantic comedies.
La La Land follows Mia Dolan, an aspiring, optimistic actress wanting to make it big in Hollywood, and Sebastian Wilder, an artist who wants to revive jazz music. Like most rom-coms, the two cross paths several times, eventually sparking a beautiful relationship. As seen in most new relationships, Mia and Sebastian spend a major part of their relationship in the honeymoon phase, which is also depicted in the typical rom-com. However, as their relationship progresses, they begin to experience inevitable turmoil that follows the honeymoon stage of relationships. This is also seen in several romantic comedies. Their arguments are concentrated on their individual careers, while also trying to make the other person happy. They were constantly supporting the other's career, causing them to push their own aside and formulate false ideas of what the other person wants for them. This adds to the realistic element of their relationship, because often times relationships become muddled due to a lack of communication and focusing on making the other person happy.
This eventually leads to Sebastian accepting a job offer that he and Mia both know he will be unhappy with. However, he only accepted it in an attempt to make Mia happy, and to make himself and Mia's family believe that he is good enough for her. To advance her career, Mia creates a one-woman play, starring, written, and directed by herself with Sebastian supporting her. However, due to his new job, he was unable to attend Mia's play, upsetting Mia and leading to their break-up. In typical rom-com fashion, Sebastian drove from Los Angeles to Colorado to inform Mia of a grand audition for a role that would kick-start her career into place.
They admit they will always love each other, however they're just at different points in their lives. Mia and Sebastian are the definition of the right person at the wrong time. Their characters are relatable, especially for those trying to make it into the music industry or Hollywood. In typical rom-coms, the characters can be difficult to relate to, making the plot and elements of the movie seem unrealistic. In La La Land, however, the struggles of the characters make the vulnerable and relatable to the audience. The film depicts that you can find the right person for you, but at the wrong point in your life. It also suggests that sometimes you have to prioritize yourself before you can somebody else, which is totally acceptable.
La La Land is unlike any other romantic comedy for several reasons. It illustrates realistic characters in a realistic relationship while being presented beautifully, cinematically and musically, and sets representative expectations for relationships, making it by far my favorite movie ever.