The wife and I don’t watch many movies as it’s really difficult to find something we’d both enjoy. That said, we recently sat down and watched 2018’s A Star Is Born. For those not familiar the film is a romantic drama film produced and directed by Bradley Cooper starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. The rest of the cast is rounded out nicely with the likes of Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay (who I totally didn’t recognize). I’m not sure how or why but this is the third remake of the 1937 film of the same name. In it, we get the story of a hard-drinking country rock star (Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young singer (Gaga). It’s got a Rotten Tomatoes score of 90% with an 80% Audience Score. I sort of buried the lead here with the title of this post but if I had to pick one word to describe this I’d go with ‘boring’.
Spoiler Alert: I’m not going to bother with a plot summary. Either you have already seen it and are coming here for my thoughts or you can find far better resources out there on the web to give you a summary. That said, I will speak openly about plot points so consider this a spoiler filled discussion. You’ve been warned.
Now I know there’s a TON of fans of this flick out there and they’re not wrong to like it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. Let’s start with what I did like.
On a budget of $36 million A Star Is Born took home a box office of nearly $435 million. That’s pretty impressive. It received eight nominations at the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Gaga) and Best Supporting Actor (Elliott). It, rightfully so, won Best Original Song for Gaga’s “Shallow”.
All of those accolades pale in comparison to the best thing about this film – Cooper’s hair. It’s absolutely epic, and no, I’m not kidding. Dude has hair that’s straight up awesome and makes me wish I could pull it off. I don’t think I can anymore (if I ever could) but I’m giving serious considering to trying to give it one more shot with a receding hairline (and about 70 extra lbs).
Along with Bradley’s mane is a pretty tremendous ‘performance’ from Lady Gaga. I put performance in quotes here because I’m not sure how much she’s really acting vs. telling her personal story. Her vocal performances are incredible here even if she’s just playing herself. Whether you like the sort of music she performs or not, you’ve got to give it to her… this gal is straight up talented.
For as awesome as Cooper’s hair is, his line delivery leaves quite a bit to be desired. I realize he’s playing a drunk here but we had to turn on the closed captioning to make out what he was saying half the time. I know I’m old, but I’m not hearing aide and closed captioning old.
Also wasn’t a fan of how they handled the passage of time. They didn’t. We start out with Cooper randomly running into Gaga in a bar and within about 20 minutes they’re on tour together, falling in love. Yes, I know it’s a love story but it seemed really rushed and there was a SLEW of things you just sort of had to ‘go with’.
My BIG issue was with the climax of the film. This last third had both some of the most redeeming qualities of the film and the worst parts all at the same time. While we finally got some forward progress in the story we also got some really disjointed storytelling. Cooper goes from coming out of rehab and being presumably on the right track to killing himself after a three minute conversation with Gaga’s manager. Yes, I realize he did it to save her the ’embarrassment’ of being with him but I’m not a fan of the film positioning suicide as noble.
Also, there’s no way in HELL she would have been able to sing that final song the way she did. Nope, I’m not buying it.
I said the film was boring and even with a strong(ish) third act I’m sticking with that. We were pretty close to tapping out about half way through cause we just weren’t buying into the relationship between Jackson (Cooper) and Ally (Gaga). If you watch the “Shallow” performance from the Oscars you get the feeling that Cooper and Gaga are really all about one another. I didn’t get that from their on screen counterparts. Whether you like this film or not, check out that performance… it’s pretty stunning. While Gaga is clearly the ‘singer’ of the two I’ve got to give HUGE props to Cooper. Guy can straight up sing.
The other thing you need to realize about this flick is that you’re going to get quite a few musical numbers from Gaga. While the first couple tie in rather well to the story we get a couple that go straight Gaga. I have a feeling that’s sort of what they were going for story wise and Jackson even calls it out once in the (mumbled) dialogue. Running time here is 136 minutes which would be cut to a tight 120 or so without all the performances. I’d personally have chosen to use that time to show the relationship between Ally and Jackson grow rather than to see them sing. Merely my opinion.
I struggle with whether I’d recommend this film or not. I went into it hearing just how awesome it was and was left sort of flat. The first two thirds are really quite boring even with some incredible musical performances thrown in. If you’re a fan of Gaga you’re going to love this. If you’re a fan of Cooper you’re going to enjoy it. If you’re a fan of tight storytelling you’re going to be left a bit flat. I’m personally a fan of lyrical music and there really are some outstanding songs here so on the strength of that I’ll give it a mild recommend.
Have you seen A Star Is Born (2018)? I have a feeling my review may be a bit polarizing. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!