Australian Council on Children and the Media

A Star is Born

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Not recommended under 15 due to adult themes, sex scenes, coarse language and drug use

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A Star is Born
  • a review of A Star is Born completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 October 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to adult themes, such as substance abuse, mental illness, addiction and suicide. Also, frequent coarse language.
Viewers 15 and over OK for this group, but contains issues that parents may wish to discuss with teens

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: A Star is Born
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, coarse language, drug use and sex scenes
Length 136 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is the fourth incarnation of the original 1937 film of the same name, but with a more rock and roll theme. When guitar legend Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) stumbles into a back-alley bar one night after a gig, he is taken aback by the raw talent of the young performer on stage, Ally (Lady Gaga). After the show, he strikes up a conversation with her and they connect deeply over their mutual love of music. When he asks her whether she writes her own songs, she surprises him by spontaneously composing a song that moves and impresses him. At the end of the night he insists that she must come to his gig the next night, which she first refuses, but then at the last minute she decides to go.  For Ally, this night is a turning point in her career and she is on a trajectory to stardom, transforming from a waitress who sings in drag bars to a fully-fledged pop star. As her star ascends, Jack’s is starting to fade, spiralling him downwards into addiction and mental illness.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The rock music lifestyle; drug addiction; mental illness; suicide; love and relationships; music

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Jackson Maine punches his brother in the face.
  • Ally punches a policeman in the face when he tries to take a photo of Jackson.
  • Jackson becomes verbally abusive to Ally in one scene, for example saying “You’re just fucking ugly”.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Children under 5 are unlikely to understand much of what happens in this film, however there are many scenes with very heightened emotions which some children may find distressing. For example, when Jack is in a rehab facility and meets with Ally again for the first time, he is unable to hold back his tears as he tries to apologise to her or when Ally discovers that Jack has committed suicide

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

As above, children in this age group may not understand much of what happens in this film. However they may feel distressed by the scenes of heightened emotions described above.

  • When Ally goes up to receive an award, Jack is completely drunk and attempts to get up on stage with her but is so inebriated that he wets himself in front of the whole audience. There is a deep sense of shame and humiliation that children may find distressing without understanding why.
  • Ally is having a bath one day when Jack comes in to speak to her and he is drunk. The atmosphere is tense, and they begin to fight. He starts to say very nasty things to her which make her very upset.
  • Jack tells someone in the rehab centre how he tried to commit suicide when he was only thirteen years old. He describes how his father didn’t even care.
  • When Jack finally gets his life back together and is back home with Ally, Ally’s manager comes over and tells him that he is the worst thing that ever happened to Ally and that the best thing he could do is to get as far away from her as possible. This is devastating to Jack.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Younger children in this age bracket may still find much of the film difficult to understand. However, older children who understand more about the adult themes in the film may find it even more emotional and distressing given their insight.
  • The scene in which Jack decides to commit suicide and follows through with it is likely to be upsetting for children of this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are likely to find the above-mentioned scenes distressing and emotional, even more so than younger children as they will have a greater understanding of the significance of what is happening.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • When Jackson visits Ally in the dressing room at the drag bar, one of the performers asks him to sign her ‘titties’.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • There are several sex scenes in this film, however they are not very explicit. For example, the couple are seen rolling around together in bed passionately with strategic covering of nipples.
  • Ally and Jackson kiss passionately many times.
  • Ally stands up in the bath and there is a brief moment of frontal nudity.
  • Jackson has his trousers half way down to expose a buttock for an injection.
  • One of the drag performers is seen in the changing room putting fake breasts on.

 

Use of substances

There are many instances of substance use in this movie, including:

  • Jackson shaking pills into his hand and swallowing them.
  • Jackson drinking until he passes out or behaves in an embarrassing or threatening manner.
  • Jackson snorting cocaine from a table.
  • Many scenes in which the camera work is shaky to give the perspective of Jackson when he is either drugged or drunk.

Coarse language

There is constant coarse language in this movie, including:

  • fucking; fucked; shit; ass; bullshit

In a nutshell

A Star is Born is an incredibly moving and well-crafted tragic love story. It has a strong and powerful message about the destructive force of alcohol and drug use, and explores the dark side of a rock and roll lifestyle without any sense of glorification. The music and acting are memorable but parents are advised that there is frequent coarse language, and may wish to determine whether or not their child has the maturity to understand and process the darker themes in the film. It is not recommended for viewers under 15 and there is plenty for parents to discuss with older teens.

The main messages from this movie are that fame comes at a personal price and that addiction can be fatal.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • a devotion to your talent.
  • working hard to achieve your goals
  • loving people selflessly

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss a number of issues with their children, including

  • mental illness
  • suicide
  • drug and alcohol addiction
  • the darker side of fame.

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