The Greatest Showman is one of Hugh Jackman life projects. He waited for a very long time to do this. Probably his ‘overtime’ stint as Wolverine might be the reason why we see this in theatres.
Anyways, the film is a reimagination of P.T. Barnum’s life, the guy who basically invented what we call circus. It’s not an accurate biopic, as they ignore all the horrible things he did (and he did a bunch).
However, that’s not important, because The Greatest Showman doesn’t want to be historically accurate. It’s a feel-good musical drenched in positivity telling a story that serves a purpose in our time. And that’s ok.
So, with that out of the way, I should get into what I think about the movie.
Well, the spectacle Jackman put together is really impressive. It doesn’t want to remind you of recent musicals, it really wants to stand on its own. And despite the ‘fantasy-esque’ take might remind you of Luhrmann, and the songs are written by the same duo of La La Land, it really is its own thing. From the pop-like music to the extremely fun choreographies, you are thrown into a world that is really reminiscent yet unique.
And that is something really positive that shouldn’t be overlooked.
As I said earlier, the film takes a character and context from the past to tell a story with a message serving for 2017. The message is the most basic one: accept and be proud of who you are, and never give up on your dreams.
The lyrics are constantly reminding us of that. Speaking of which, the quality of those isn’t really constant. Some are really on the nose, including those that basically expose how characters are feeling (even though this is a classic musical’s trait).
Generally speaking, we are not in front the smartest movie, but, again, that’s not the goal. The goal is literally to accept ‘different’. So, despite I might not be electrified by its content and goal, that’s not something I really can complain about.
What I can complain about though is the quality of the writing, which, excluding lyrics, is very inconsistent.
For starters, the film starts with a bang (playing the first part of The Greatest Show), but then it goes into showing you of Barnum and to-be Barnum’s wife past. I get the goal, but it was a really boring sequence, and sincerely not convincing by any means.
Same goes for the Jenny Lind segment. Despite Rebecca Ferguson gives her all in playing the character, it was nothing but a plot device to expand Barnum’s life. Nothing more, nothing less. Luckily it kicks off what’s probably the most ’empowering’ song, This Is Me.
The Greatest Showman is obviously carried around by the great charm an charisma of Hugh Jackman. Not surprising since the film is his child, but it’s always entertaining – better, extremely entertaining watching an actor playing a part he extremely loves.
I was really pleased with Zac Efron and Zendaya’s performances. While their character’s relationship feels a little bit forced (but that has to do more with the writing than them), I really enjoyed them seeing them on screen. in particular Zendaya, who in this 2017 showcased two secondary but really impressive performances (here and in Spider-Man: Homecoming). She is successfully breaking away from the teen star role in Hollywood – and she’s doing it the right way.
Overall, The Greatest Showman is quite flawed, and the obvious feel-good message might not be helpful to some audience (the fact the movie is not doing so well at box office kind of proves it). But to the target it was meant to be, it will be a great ride.