Details: Released in 2017. About an hour and forty-five minutes long. Stars Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron. Songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
If you look up The Greatest Showman on rottentomatoes.com, you’ll find that it scored a 55% from critics while it scored an 89% from non-critic reviewers. And that’s a pretty accurate description of the movie. Technically speaking, The Greatest Showman is a mess. It’s got a flimsy plot and a nonsensical, historically inaccurate story. The segues from dialogue into music are often jarring. However, despite this movie being very fluffy and cheesy, in light of the divisiveness going right now in America, The Greatest Showman had exactly the kind of music, message, and themes that I needed to see. I enjoyed The Greatest Showman quite a bit.
The Greatest Showman is a musical about P.T. Barnum and the creation of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. It’s very loosely based on his life and mostly fictional. In any case, we follow Barnum from his life as a dirt poor child to an adult in pursuit of wealth, fame and status.
The story is mostly a jumbled mess. You can feel the rush to fit everything into a run time of less than two hours. I think if they had more time to develop the characters, the movie would have flowed better and the music would have flowed better from dialogue scenes to musical scenes.
Common themes throughout the movie involve tolerance, humility, and equality. Again, this is a mostly fictional retelling of Barnum’s story. If you know anything about the time period in which this is supposed to take place, people were a lot nastier back then in regards to equality and tolerance.
The songs and their performances are really the star of the show. All songs were written by Pasek and Paul, the ones who wrote the songs for the Tony Award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. Alex Lacamoire is the executive music producer and I imagine he arranged the music as he often does.
The singing is great. Michelle Williams, Kealla Settle (who I last saw in the musical Waitress), and Zendaya were all amazing. Rebecca Ferguson’s singing voice is performed by Loren Allred (of The Voice fame) and Allred’s voice is amazing. Rounding out the singing performances are Hugh Jackman and Zack Effron, both of whom are likely the least talented in terms of singing ability. They’re both kind of shout-y at times instead of just singing.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. The thing is that there aren’t really a lot of competitors in the movie musical genre. If you like live action movie musicals, The Greatest Showman is just about your only option this year. And I do. Furthermore, current events in the United States are just violent and divisive. It’s nice to see something fluffy and cheesy when reality is so dark and depressing. I think one of the primary purposes of entertainment is distraction and escapism from a bitter reality. The Greatest Showman did that for me.