Did the title of my article captivate your attention? Good, that was the goal! I thought it was fitting given the theme of this film–of course one could argue that I was demonstrating salesmanship, not showmanship but I consider the two to go hand in hand.
First all let me say I’m ashamed of myself for not releasing this review sooner. Life tends to get in the way at times…even for this movie critic who pounces on films like a coyote on a field mouse–especially films that have gained as much traction as The Greatest Showman.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Michelle Williams (who has been getting a lot of work lately) The Greatest Showman is a musical biopic about the life of P.T. Barnum, the legendary extraordinaire who revolutionized entertainment and showmanship for decades to come with his museum and circus. The film follows Barnum from his humble beginnings as the son of a tailor to the famous ringmaster and producer that he became known for–a man who made it his number one goal in life to make people happy, sometimes at the expense of what matters the most.
Embellished with rousing show-tunes, flashy dance numbers, and a simple yet tender plot, The Greatest Showman certainly makes its mark in a gradually swelling movie/musical rebirth that has begun to ease its way back into cinema with the notable smashing success of La La Land. It’s become clear that Hollywood is realizing the musicals still have clout in our entertainment driven society and The Greatest Showman steps up to the microphone for its own piece of the standing ovation.
First things first…
The music in this film is well—catchy to say the least.
Very very catchy.
So catchy in fact that after just about every musical number was performed in the film I lost focus on the subsequent happenings because I was too busy humming the previous song in my head. From the very first song to the last, you’re swept away into the toe-tapping magic of this well orchestrated production. Taking on a pop-rock style with a nice blend of classic showtunes, the cinematic spectacle is geared quite nicely towards modern musical enthusiasts. The casting of this film is great–all the performers are talented and believable and the choreography that accompanies the music is fun and charming. Without a doubt the musical numbers with their arousing showstopper appeal mixed with its peaceful and soothing melodies will make a lasting impression on audiences as they leave the theater.
I wish the plot could say the same…
While the pizzazz and spectacle certainly provide a substantial amount of entertainment, the plotline seemed more fabricated than factual and more “poptomistic” than provoking. Perhaps it was the fairy tale nature of the portrayed events or the rehashed good vibrations that found it’s nesting place in familiar conventions, but the plot and theme of the film was in a way drowned out by its own spectacle–which is unfortunate given the deeper story arcs that were struggling to find their significance.
Given the nature of the story and dramatic ebbs and flows that present themselves in P.T. Barnum’s life I feel as though there could have been more substance to flesh out the wonder and thrills that a musical presents. The biggest theme presented was equality through societal turbulence embodies in the diversity found in Barnum’s circus attractions–which is all well and good mind you, but there were many other themes at work here which deserved their moment in the spotlight as well. These qualms of mine weren’t enough to ruin the experience of watching the film by any means but it did leave me wanting more. The film’s reflection as a pop musical serves its purpose–but the deeper themes get lost in lights and applause.
Despite the perceived flaws, this film is still a delightful watch and very family friendly which is a big plus! With a stellar cast, memorable music, superb choreography, and a whimsical story-line full of romance, inspiration, and an upbeat tempo, The Greatest Showman will certainly keep your attention, and you’ll most likely end up playing the soundtrack over and over again like I’ve been doing–even as I’ve been writing this review.
Daily Diatribe Rating: 7.5/10