Gaga: Five Foot Two

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Gaga: Five Foot Two Movie Poster Image
An accessible star comes to life; language, partial nudity.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 100 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Shows clearly that "artistry" doesn't come without great effort, commitment, and compromise. "Stardom" only adds to those demands. Values promoted: loyalty, strong family bonds, doing one's best, and the need to cope with challenges that threaten to undermine progress.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lady Gaga is a solid professional. Attention is paid to every detail of her image and her performances. Though she has moments of sadness, frustration, insecurity, and anger, and is subject to painful physical problems, she works hard to overcome the negatives. She is strong and opinionated, but respects her colleagues and fans, and treats staff and personnel well. She smokes constantly. Immediate family members are portrayed as supportive, accepting, and loving. Ethnic diversity throughout.

Violence
Sex

Lots of revealing clothing, some sexual dance moves. Partial nudity, including shots of Lady Gaga's bare breasts.

Language

Frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," and some other cursing. References to mind-altering substances: "Let's get stoned in Grandpa's car!" is said in jest. "Took a molly."

Consumerism

Duane Reade, Bud Light, Riddell helmets; The Bitter End, an NYC club.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Multiple scenes show Lady Gaga smoking cigarettes. In a doctor's office, it's clear that she takes a number of prescription drugs. Participants drink beer, smoke. Lady Gaga concedes that in the past she used alcohol and drugs. Cocaine is mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gaga: Five Foot Two is a documentary about superstar Lady Gaga (real name, Stefani Germanotta) as she prepares for the release of her 2016 album Joanne and her half-time appearance at 2017's Super Bowl in Houston, Texas. Centered more on the intense work and emotional and physical ups and downs the singer-dancer-songwriter experiences than on performances, the film is a very personal one. Still, there's lots of music, along with well-shot sequences that showcase Lady Gaga's talent, outsized personality, and commitment to her art. Audiences are treated to a look at her strong connections to family, collaborators, and fans. There's plenty of swearing, mostly "f--k" and "s--t." Gaga wears skimpy clothes (including thongs), has sexy moves, and appears topless in a few scenes. And she smokes cigarettes throughout the film. There are occasional references to past recreational drug use and to meds still prescribed for pain from an ongoing injury. Overall, Lady Gaga holds little back about the challenges she faces as a music icon and as a maturing woman. Of course, she's aware of the camera's presence and what that means, but she seems intent on letting her fans and others in on what it's really like to be her. Gaga fans run the age gamut and include the very young, but this movie is for mature folks only. 

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What's the story?

Lady Gaga is 30 years old, a superstar, and a sensitive, gifted artist in GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO. She's also overworked, overextended, and faced with the frequent physical challenges that come from her commitment to excellence and a years-old hip injury that threatens her well-being. On the bright side, she has the support of her close-knit family and a group of producers, managers, musicians, and experts for whom her welfare is a top priority. Director Chris Moukarbel and team follow the singer-songwriter both when she is Lady Gaga, the professional, and when she is simply Stefani Germanotta, a vulnerable but driven young woman who faces the insecurities, loneliness, and meltdowns that everyone faces. Moukarbel takes his audience to recording studios, to the set of American Horror Story, to video shoots for an impending album, to her grandmother's house, to a doctor's office, to a baptism, and all points in between. Mostly, Lady Gaga is engaged in the act of preparation for the many demands on her, and the chaos that occasionally works its way onto her busy schedule. Most affectingly, Stefani Germanotta is hoping to let Moukarbel and her fans see her as she likes to see herself.

Is it any good?

Intent upon revealing as much of herself as she'll allow fans to see, including moments both intimate and painful, Lady Gaga entrusts a talented director with the job; overall, he delivers. It's an eclectic work: Attention is paid to many facets of the singer-songwriter's life, and not in a linear order. But the movie builds, culminating in moments from her phenomenal appearance at the 2017 Super Bowl. Fans may yearn for more of the vibrant performances and music that the alter ego of Stefani Germanotta is famous for, but they'll probably be satisfied with this up-close-and-personal vision of the star when she's not on stage.

That doesn't mean that her talent is neglected. There are several show-stopping musical numbers that attest to her artistry, and they are stunning. Along with those, however, the talented lady wants us to know how she suffers for her art, how she transcends a disabling injury and frequent pain, and how she calls upon her bountiful gifts and her commitment to excellence to succeed. Gaga: Five Foot Two should please existing fans and bring her some enthusiastic new ones.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about intentions of documentary filmmaking: to inform, inspire, persuade, and/or entertain. Which of these relate to Gaga: Five Foot Two? Do you think the filmmakers realized their goals? What was your takeaway from the movie?

  • It has been proven that Lady Gaga, and artists like her, are role models for kids. Do you think Lady Gaga's frequent smoking impacts her audiences? Why is it important, especially for teens, to understand the ramifications of cigarette smoking even when they see role models who smoke? 

  • Ultimately, a film documenting a celebrity with his/her cooperation is the film that the celebrity allows the audience to see. How willing was Lady Gaga to share herself with her audience? What scenes most confirm her attempts at an honest portrayal? In what ways, if any, did your attitude or opinions about her change as a result of this movie?

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