With musicals, you expect there to be plenty of moments of songs and impromptu dance numbers breaking out and taking over anything that’s seen. Those interested may not mind as these highly orchestrated portions of the film delivering this stuff. In fact, that may be one of the primary reasons why you choose to go see something like this. If you’re that kind of person, you may be satisfied with The Greatest Showman. As for the rest of us? Probably not.
Loosely based on the life of P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), The Greatest Showman tells the story of a visionary’s rise from poverty to become the creator of a company that emerged as a worldwide spectacle. From his the period of time where he was taking risks to overcome his impoverished beginnings, to his days fighting to expand and keep his circus alive, we’re asked to follow him and his team during a journey that shows some of his best and worst moments throughout this period of his life.
The first issue that I had with this movie was the decision to use modern songs at certain points. It doesn’t happen that much, but it’s certainly noticeable whenever it occurs. I’m assuming there are people who don’t mind this though. That’s fine, but it has the ability to take some of us out of the time period where these movies are supposed to be taking place due to the songs that we hear not really fitting with the visuals that we’re looking at.
The weirdest part about this movie is that the music serves as a way to disrupt some quality scenes that contain decent storytelling and acting. There are periods where I was just about to get comfortable with the story that was being presented, but the musical number would slowly being to develop during a crucial time in a conversation. In these instances, I found myself hoping that the songs would somehow be pushed away so we could instead focus on the development of the characters and their specific issues that they are facing.
As far as the story itself is concerned, I don’t know exactly how much of this is genuine. IN just watching it, it’s clear that a large chunk of it is fiction since much of what takes place is what we see in movies over and over again. Many of the same issues that Barnum is faced with in this movie are issues that plenty of characters in both television and film have been facing for decades now. Obviously this isn’t a good thing as it makes what we see conventional and clichéd.
The little bit I do know about the real P.T. Barnum is also kind of obvious for people who might not even know anything about him. The movie suggests that he was this amazing human being, but would be difficult to see as accurate when looking how he appeared to make his money by showcasing people who were seen as “freaks” by the masses. I know that they have to change things in order to make this movie more palatable for people who want to enjoy the movie, but this could potentially take something away from people’s enjoyment of it if they allow this to bother them.
Regardless of how you that part of the film is received, this is a movie that I can’t really recommend. Of course, some people will have fun with what they get, but the movie itself probably would have been better off not being a musical and doing a better job of building a more unique story. At the end of 2017, there are simply other things to watch out there. They’re not all high quality, but they will likely be more fulfilling than The Greatest Showman on multiple levels.
Director: Michael Gracey
Film Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2017
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
- Score - 3.5/103.5/10