A Star Is Born Encore, the extended cut of A Star Is Born—aka A Star Is Born Again—arrived in theaters last weekend, bringing with it 12 precious additional minutes of Jackson and Ally’s classic story of love, music, fame, and Cheetos. The new 12 minutes are peppered throughout the movie, sometimes extending scenes by a few seconds in ways that would be undetectable to all but the most devoted Born-heads and elsewhere restoring deleted scenes whole cloth. Is it worth sitting through the movie again to experience the new stuff? Whether you’re tired trying to fill that void or you need more because there’s something else you’re searchin’ for is ultimately up to you, but to help, here’s a guide to the best and worst of the Encore cut, starting with the latter.
Do We Really Need This?
Ziplining: Inserted between a dance rehearsal scene and the bathtub scene with the eyebrows (you know the one), here Ally rides a zipline that’s set up in the grass surrounding her and Jackson’s rustic home. He catches her and tells her, “You’re a natural.” It’s cute and all—plus it was in the now-legendary trailer for the movie—but do we need it? Does it advance the story or add layers to their relationship? Or does it actually make us wonder why Jackson is OK with ziplines when he can’t abide no-show socks? Why is Jackson’s knowledge of ziplining advanced enough that he can recognize a natural? This raises too many uncomfortable questions and should have remained on the cutting-room floor.
An Extra Serving of Noodles: When he found Jackson passed out in front of his house, Dave Chappelle’s character, Noodles, had more to say than audiences initially saw. In the shorter version, Noodles gives Jackson some life advice via a metaphor about finding a port, deciding to stay for a while, and then liking where you ended up. But in the longer cut, additional dialogue mixes this metaphor: “It’s landing, bro: Are you gonna land it, or are you gonna crash it?” Noodles asks. So is the vessel we’re talking about a plane then? And what is “it”? Too confusing, it’s gotta go.
Extra Ron Rifkin: It’s great that Bradley Cooper gave some shine to, in addition to Greg Grunberg, who played Jackson’s Cheetos-loving driver, another Alias co-star, Ron Rifkin, by having him play a rehab counselor in Cooper’s prestigious directorial debut. But we already get the point that Rifkin’s character is a kindly type by the time this new scene arrives, and so we do not also need to see him singing (in Yiddish, quite randomly—it’s this lullaby, actually) and then touching Ally’s chin in a weird way when she comes to visit.
More Anguish After Jackson’s Accident: Encore gives us another shot of Jackson and Ally in the shower together after he wets himself onstage at the Grammys, shot from a different angle. Thanks, but we pretty much got the gist the first time.
We Need This!
More “Shallow”: Duh, yes, always, how could you even ask? We see some of Ally starting to sing “Shallow” in the movie’s original version, in the grocery store parking lot scene, but here she gets much further, doing the first few lines and the chorus. Not only do fans obviously crave more footage of anything involving “Shallow,” this also adds to the story in that it was never totally clear before how Jackson managed to do an arrangement for the song when he had heard so little of it. It is now!
More Writing and Touring: Jackson and Ally are in an empty outdoor amphitheater, sitting on a stage like it’s a living-room rug, working on a song called “Clover.” (A still from this scene served as the art for the movie’s official poster and soundtrack, too: another mystery solved.) Jackson has a guitar in his lap, Ally is splayed out on her stomach, and palm trees loom in the distance. It’s short, but it establishes that their relationship is continuing to grow and mature during this tour. The same is true of another inserted scene, in which the two sing “Midnight Special” on their tour bus, Almost Famous–style.
“Is That Alright?”: Now this is what I call an extra! The original version of the movie doesn’t include “Is That Alright?,” but the soundtrack does, so the song was a bit of a mystery. Finally, Encore brings us the truth: Ally sings the song to Jackson at their wedding reception, announcing it as an addendum to her vows. It’s sweet and it fills in why this song existed in the first place. Good restoration, Encore! We also get to see some of “Too Far Gone” later, which is cool but slightly less notable.
World Tour Planning: This quick scene isn’t earth-shattering or anything, but it fleshes out what’s going on with Ally while Jackson is on his downward spiral: She’s reviewing costume sketches for her tour (and who doesn’t love a costume sketch?) with Rez and saying things like, “I’m planning my world tour!” to remind herself that she ought to be happy, even though we know she’s not.
Grammys Rehearsal: In the original movie, Jackson participates in a Roy Orbison tribute at the Grammys, but is chastened to discover he is only playing bass, not singing as well. This restored scene presents more footage of the young singer, Marlon Williams, chosen over him, and though it’s perhaps too long, it adds some nice context to the awkwardness of the situation. We also get a fun anecdote about Jackson following a girl to New Zealand and the revelation that he doesn’t know what the word euphemism means.
A Star Is Born Encore will stay in at least some theaters through next week, but the Blu-ray and other upcoming special physical-media editions will surely also include these extras, thus ensuring that those few extra bars of the parking-lot version of “Shallow” will be available for posterity, as they should be.