The most hyped film of the year is upon us…at least the most hyped film amongst the Hollywood elites. This movie has had ‘Oscar buzz’ for years. With such names as Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, even Beyonce attached to it at one point or another, Hollywood saw the golden statue with this film before pre-production was ever planned. With Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga officially tasked to star in this movie, for months there has been buzz that it was a lock for Academy Award season and it hadn’t even premiered yet. Well, the wait is over, and the film that everyone can’t stop talking about and Lady Gaga fans even tried to sabotage reviews for Venom (as if a Sony film needs help writing bad reviews) to make sure this film opens at number 1. The question is, does A Star is Born deserve the massive hype behind it, or is this another example of Hollywood loving itself more than audiences?
A Star Is Born is about a musician named Jackson (Cooper), when he is not drinking like a fish, he has a guitar in his hand and enjoys playing in front of big crowds. One night, he takes a trip to drag bar and discovers an inspiring singer Ally (Gaga), who despite some anger issues with the men in her life, has a sound that inspires Jackson to take her on the road and give her a voice. After coming together for a few gigs, Ally gets a chance to become the big star that she always dreamed of but Jackson’s drinking problems put those dreams in jeopardy, which means Ally has to make the toughest decision in her life, her career or her boyfriend.
Most people won’t know going in that this is the 3rd remake of the original film made in 1937 (with remakes in 1954 and 1976). So while this isn’t the most original story out there, Bradley Cooper (who wrote, produced and directed this film) is smart enough not to stretch himself thin with the scope and keeps it simple. For the first time directing a major picture, Cooper does a solid job making the film as genuine as he can, getting good performances out of his main actors including the biggest star Lady Gaga. All of the film’s high points are when Gaga is in front of a mic, belting her great voice. In what felt like a soft biopic similar to what we saw with Eminem in 8 Mile, Gaga plays what is essentially a character loosely based on her own life story. An insecure young girl who wants to be a singer, but the harsh reality of the music industry stops her from pursuing her dreams. The harsh realities of the music industry are in full display here as the motto of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll turns out to be more of a cost than our stars bargained for.
Now despite the massive hype train for this film, the movie is anything but perfect. The first glaring issue is the editing. A 135 minute run time is too long for a film like this and the movie starts to noticeably drag along around the 2nd act. There is also the problem of melodrama at certain parts which comes off as more corny than realistic. Along with that point, there are also cameos in this film that really clash with the story rather than mesh with it. While Dave Chappelle feels like he has a bigger role based on the trailer, his character really comes out of nowhere and when he is joined by another comic, it does more to take you out of the film than put you in.
While A Star Is Born is undoubtedly Lady Gaga’s movie, I really can’t see the Oscar hype behind this film (sans a music category). Lady Gaga is basically playing Stefani Germanotta and while her toned down persona is definitely more enjoyable than the real-life musical superstar, you can’t look past the fact that this film has been done before and what really makes it work is stuff we have already seen. With that said, A Star Is Born is will still move general audiences to worthwhile enjoyment.
Thank god Beyonce didn’t do this movie…Crisis averted.