A Star Is Born

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
A Star Is Born Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Cooper, Lady Gaga shine in tragic story of love, addiction.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 135 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 38 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 52 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although parts are more cautionary than inspiring, story offers positive messages about importance of art and music, letting your voice be heard. Promotes idea that show business, particularly music industry, can be demanding, manipulative, forcing artists into easy-to-market types. Reveals how dangerous, disturbing alcohol/drug abuse is, why those with suicidal and addictive personalities need proper therapy, support, rehabilitation. Compassion is a clear theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jackson and Ally are both flawed, but they do love each other, respect each other's talents. Jackson is an addict but also a dedicated, committed musician. Ally is supportive, loving but possibly enabling of Jackson's substance abuse until it becomes overwhelming.


A character punches people a couple of times. One scene in which an addict acts erratically/in a disturbing manner in public. Recollections of an abusive father. [Spoiler alert!] A character recalls a failed suicide attempt, later dies by suicide.


Frequent kissing. Several sex scenes of varying degrees of intimacy that include shots of bare backs, sides of breasts, etc. Characters are seen in the tub alone and together; there's a quick, nonsexual glimpse of a naked woman's body getting out of a bath. Partial glimpse of a man's buttock as he receives an injection. A drag queen reveals her fake breasts for Jackson to autograph.


Frequent (more than 100 uses) of strong language, including "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," and, to a lesser degree, "a--hole,"  "ass," "t-ts," "t-tties," "bitch," "oh my God," etc.


Brands/products shown include Prius, iPhone, Yamaha piano, Interscope Records, Saturday Night Live, Dodge Ram, Ford, Grammys.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A main character abuses and alcohol, drugs. He drinks to excess, sometimes straight from bottle, also takes prescription and illegal drugs, snorting and injecting them. Other adults drink, too -- at bars, parties, behind the scenes at concerts, at home. A character is visibly stoned/drunk in several scenes, even becoming incontinent/incoherent at times. Part of the movie takes place in residential rehab. Characters smoke cigarettes and marijuana. Both main characters recall their fathers' drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Star Is Born is the fourth big-screen take on a tragic love story centered around the pitfalls of substance abuse and show business. Starring Bradley Cooper (making his directorial debut) as a stadium-filling rock star and Lady Gaga as the struggling singer he discovers and falls for, this version, like its predecessors, revolves around alcoholism and addiction, so there's lots of drinking and drug use, often to excess. You can also expect strong language in nearly every scene, particularly "f--k" and "s--t." This mature romance has lots of kissing, several love scenes, and a couple instances of partial nudity, both in sexual and nonsexual contexts. And while the movie has messages about the importance of art and letting your voice be heard, it also explores heavy themes, including mental health, substance abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, and more.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 14-year-old Written byKazmom2 October 21, 2018

Great movie for high schoolers and up

I am honestly surprised by the other parent ratings. After reading the reviews here I told my 14 year old freshman she couldn’t see the film. After seeing it... Continue reading
Adult Written byRmmeyer1 October 7, 2018

Mature, but good content

After reading the other reviews I worried that I made a mistake taking my 14 year old. But it was really a good movie, and yes the content was mature, but there... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 8, 2018

Amazing, tragic love story.

Despite what the age says, I am 12, and I have some anxiety, so I´m not a 12 year old that usually watches scary movies. I thought the addictions hit a little c... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byhannahlindsay13 October 5, 2018

So good!

It was so good! A must see!

What's the story?

A STAR IS BORN -- actor Bradley Cooper's directorial debut -- is another take on the tragic love story that was previously turned into movies in 1937, 1954, and 1976. It tells the story of a musician who falls in love with a talented singer, only to see her fame take off -- and surpass -- his own. Cooper, who also co-wrote the adaptation, stars as Jackson Maine, a hard-drinking, Eddie Vedder-meets-Neil Young-type who discovers Ally (Lady Gaga) while she performs at a drag bar and is instantly mesmerized by her talent. The two connect both personally and professionally, and soon Ally is writing, touring, and performing with Jackson, who turns over the stage to her and offers support as she launches her solo career. But as Ally's star begins to rise, Jackson's substance abuse and personal demons overwhelm him, threatening his stability and her dreams.

Is it any good?

Cooper's passionate, thoughtful directorial debut is beautifully acted and fabulously shot, making it the best cinematic version to date of this heartbreaking story. It's obvious how immersed in the role Cooper became; his research and commitment to his role -- and to the movie as a whole -- are breathtaking. And in Lady Gaga, he found the perfect co-star to play Ally, a struggling singer with a big voice and a lot to say, but not enough confidence to say it. Cooper and Gaga's chemistry is palpable, and their characters' romance is utterly riveting and realistic. Working from a script he co-wrote with veterans Will Fetters and Eric Roth, Cooper directs the movie to showcase the performances, but also the sensory aspects of fame: the overload of applause and adoration followed by moments of silence and isolation.

The movie's music is fabulous, and it's impressive how well Cooper can hold his own while singing with Lady Gaga. We already knew that she could act, but that Cooper can sing is a revelation. There are many memorable songs, but "Shallow" and "I'll Never Love Again" are particularly powerful and emotional. The music evokes the highs and lows of Jackson and Ally's relationship, and it reveals the difficulty of staying true to your artistic voice in an era when everything -- even a marriage -- can be reduced to marketability. In addition to Gaga, Cooper has rounded up an impressive supporting cast, including Sam Elliott as Jackson's older brother/tour manager, Bobby; Andrew Dice Clay as Ally's proud working-class father; and Dave Chappelle and Hamilton star Anthony Ramos as old friends. There's not a false note in this ultimately heartbreaking remake, and it sets the bar remarkably high for Cooper's continuing career as a director.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the alcohol and drug use in A Star Is Born. How is addiction portrayed? Are there consequences to the substance abuse? Why is that important?

  • Does watching this movie make you interested in seeing any of the previous versions of the story? Why do you think so many filmmakers in different eras have wanted to revisit this plot?

  • Jackson believes that music should mean something and is critical of some of the superficial pop songs Ally sings once her career takes off. What do you think? Does all music have to be deep or meaningful?

  • What motivated Jackson's self-destructive decisions? Were you surprised by the ending, or did you pick up on the foreshadowing?

  • What is the movie saying about the music business? About fame in general?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music and drama

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Themes & Topics

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