Comedy·ACTUALLY

'A Star Is Born' mentions nothing about the rapid formation of dense supernovae: By Neil deGrasse Tyson

Yeah. The title excited me too. But allow me to calm you right down.

Oh, that was rich.

I was recently "treated" to a screening of Bradley Cooper's directorial debut, A Star Is Born.

Yes. The title excited me too. But allow me to calm you right down.

At no point in its 135-minute running time did this piece of celluloid even depict a semblance of the glory that is a pre-main sequence star following the standard course of the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram until it reaches the Hayashi limit, before moving on to further contraction on the Kelvin–Helmholtz timescale.

Like, not even at all.

Sure, there were some scenes where you could see, off in the distance, those majestic princes of the firmament, already full-grown. But then they would abruptly cut away from them — as if they weren't the focus of the film, as if they shouldn't be the focus of every story put to celluloid — and get back to some lady singing and some guy drinking.

Try drinking in the majesty of the heavens, you clod.

I don't know how many of you are astrophysicists out there, but I am.

Nor do I care how many of you are astrophysicists out there; I just wanted to let you know that I myself am one, and thought that would be a convenient way to slide it in there.

But for people like us (me), this is a rough watch.

Sure, if I really stretch the limits of scientific plausibility, if I use my "imagination" to make some "analogies" in the name of "art," then sure, I can spot some connections to the actual astral formation process in there.

When a protostar reaches a temperature of roughly 7 million kelvins, it becomes hot enough to be a plausible star. And the Lady Gaga character (I don't know if they chose the actress because of her name's similarity to the level of this film's approach to the scientific method, namely "baby" level, but that connection sure works), does gain "star power" throughout the film.

But honestly, I'm giving them way more than they deserve here.

It's as if they weren't trying to explore anything scientific at all here.

And you may be surprised to hear me say this, but that's actually usually fine with me!

I have no problem with a film making no attempt to explain the origin story of astronomical phenomena.

Just admit that. Just warn us. Just devote the first 20 minutes or so to an explanation/apology that you'll be ignoring science for the next couple hours, and we're expected to do it with you.

But don't trick me. Don't make a fool out of me.

That said, what this film lacks in astrophysics it makes up for in chemistry, do you understand what I mean? 5 fully-grown stars.

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About the Author

Jeremy has been a staff writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, performed stand-up comedy at the Just For Laughs and Winnipeg Comedy Festivals, and co-created/stars in the popular video series The Urbane Explorer/Finding Bessarion. A 3x Canadian Comedy Award–winner and published humour columnist, he also wrote your favourite joke, the one about the fish trying to get a job at a bank.