Life has a funny way of making things happen. Such is the case with movies I was convinced I would never see. I once thought A Star is Born (2018) would be one of those movies. Not only did I never see the original 1930s classic and the two remakes that followed, I also thought the trailer reeked of Hollywood self-aggrandizement and schmaltz. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in a musical romantic romp. Look at how beautiful they are compared to us slobs! Cinema lovers are sick of this game. They want something new. So you can imagine my surprise when the reviews turned up well above the 60% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the most trusted names in the business even hailed it as one of the year’s best. Could it be that Hollywood has found a way to make tired formulas relevant and exciting again? After all, I am many things, but a betting man I am not. I like to admit when I’m wrong. Ultimately, Bradley Cooper and Co. brought me into the reclining seats last night—and kudos to him for that.
A Star is Born is, above all else, an aesthetically pleasing motion picture. It’s shiny and beautiful without trying too hard, and it’s sweet and sentimental without being condescending. It’s sad, without becoming sappy. It was everything it needed to be to work. Bradley Cooper possesses a natural charm and provides a fine study in method acting as he practically loses himself as country music icon Jackson Maine. I’m pleased to tell you that though he still resembles himself (at least after not shaving for a month), he’s the farthest thing from a role we would expect to see him in. Jackson is a demon riddled, suffering alcoholic and we believe him. His muse, Ally, the Star of the picture, is played by Lady Gaga herself. Or perhaps, we ought to use her real name, Stefani Germanotta. A Star is truly Born as a pop superstar departs from her wacky costumes and returns to her roots as your average, beautiful Italian-American girl trying as hard as she can to get by and hopefully make it big. She is a dream come true and the precise reason to see this thing if you want to. To the unassuming eye, you couldn’t tell that this is a role tailor-made for Mama Monster. Does she properly fill the shoes of Streisand and Garland? You know, I think she does—she’s maybe even as big as the two of them put together.
But granted these two very positive things, I wasn’t knocked out of my socks at any given point of the film. It’s beyond anything remotely grueling as a superstar celebrity vehicle, but don’t expect a life-changing experience that leaves you talking about it for days after. This is just a satisfying, if not unforgettable, musical journey.