It’s easy to make fun of La La Land. The movie is the odds-on favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars on Sunday after cleaning up at the Golden Globes, it’s a musical without memorable songs or stars who can sing, it’s weirdly pretentious about the relative artistic merits of jazz versus those of John Legend, and it takes place in an oddly fictional version of Los Angeles where seemingly everybody who isn’t John Legend is white. But making fun of La La Land with panache, well, that’s an art.
There are no shortage of clips that come up if you search for La La Land parody, and there are a handful that get it very right. Jimmy Fallon opened the Golden Globes with a stunner, but he had a seemingly unlimited budget and access to all of the biggest stars in the world (and even then, he couldn’t resist a “gay panic” gag with Justin Timberlake). But if you want to make fun of the film without access to a set-piece involving Barb from Stranger Things, you’ve gotta dig a little deeper.
CineFix’s reinterpretation of the film (as imagined by David Lynch, naturally) takes La La Land‘s undertones of pretension and puts them forward as the text itself. The movie is big on things that Lynch appreciates–minor-key piano scores, ’50s-style pop numbers, purple tones–and damaged people working their way through a doomed love story. The actual La La Land is a small, traditional romantic comedy–the only thing about the movie that isn’t extremely conventional is the fact that it’s overlong. But imagined as a David Lynch film, it’s possible to dream of those two hours and eight minutes getting weird in some pretty interesting, if unwatchable, ways.
Funny Or Die’s “Muppet Muppet Land,” meanwhile, basically just cuts Ryan Gosling out of the movie and replaces him with Kermit the Frog. What’s remarkable is that pretty much everything in both La La Land and most Muppet movies. Emma Stone falling in love with Kermit the Frog is 100% believable in both worlds, and Kermit’s a better singer than Gosling, to boot.
As original content goes, Cannibal Milkshake’s “NY NY Land” replaces the sunny, West Coast vibe with the grim, money-and-success obsessions of New Yorkers in the winter. There is no shortage of rich, cocaine-fueled assholes in Los Angeles, of course, but mostly those dudes don’t work in finance. If you’re an aspiring actress, you move to L.A. If you’re seeking angel investors for a dumb lifestyle app, meanwhile, you may well be based in New York, trying to sell people on “Instagram, but for pizza.” La La Land is ultimately about what happens when two self-obsessed people who are only vaguely likable find love, for a time, in one another’s arms. You’d be surprised at how flexible that concept is.
As part of the film’s climax, Emma Stone’s character goes on an audition in which she’s encouraged to be herself, and the casting director is endlessly generous with her time when it comes to finding an unknown actress to hang out with in an attempt to find someone they can build a film around. That is, er, not how most auditions go, which opens up another avenue for making fun of this movie: What if that audition felt the way that most auditions do? La La Land purports itself to be something of a modern-day fairy tale of Los Angeles, but strip that away and what you’re left with looks a lot like Above Average’s alternate take on the audition scene.
Of course, maybe the most mockable thing about the cult that’s sprung up around La La Land as it proceeds inexorably toward awards season domination is how seriously people take the thing. Saturday Night Live nailed that with Aziz Ansari back in January, and if you’re watching the Oscars on Sunday night with your fingers crossed for Moonlight or Hell or High Water, well, this is basically what that experience feels like.