Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, "La La Land" has respect for movie tradition, in the sense that it references some of the best elements of the big studio musicals from the 1940s.
The scene is more charming as an idea than in the actual execution, but it lets us know that in this musical, the ugly and the quotidian will not be denied.
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist who loves old jazz and dreams of reviving it by starting a high end nightclub, but he is working in a restaurant playing Christmas tunes.
Mia (Emma Stone) is a barista and spends her time going out for movie auditions that not only come to nothing, but are demeaning experiences.
The film is dotted with production numbers and romantic songs by Justin Hurwitz, more than enough to qualify "La La Land" as a musical, but not so much that the characters are subordinated to the songs.
Aside from the technical aspects of their performances, which are impressive enough - they sing, they dance and Gosling even plays the piano, expertly, Stone and Gosling are lovely.