Let me ask you a question: if you, as an audience member, were getting the choice of two different approaches to one story. One being an overlong, two hour and 30 minute epic about the creation of the Barnum and Bailey circus. This film wouldn’t be a musical, it would drown in every single detail about the creation, it would have great performances to be sure, but ultimately would be another forgettable bio pic. Or would you rather have a tight, hour and 45 minute muscial, where the film is just inspired by the creation of the Barnum and Bailey circus, doesn’t go haywire trying to get every detail correct, where every song is memorable, and you just want to get up in your seat, sing along, and cheer. Basically have a fantastic time at the movies without trying to be a boring awards contender. Yeah…I can see your decision now, and I thought so. And that is exactly what THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is. A great, fantastic, memorable, fun as heck, show stopping musical. Did I also mention sits at a nice PG rating and is fun for the whole family?
I don’t know what has been up with critics and audiences lately, especially when you look up individual movies on Rotten Tomatoes. They can’t seem to agree on anything and it is really bizarre. Critics hated Justice League, but audiences enjoyed it. Critics loved The Last Jedi, but audience are turning it the most divisive Star Wars movie yet, and here, we have critics not liking this movie that much, and audiences love it. As my love of reviewing movies for you guys tells you, I am willing to give any movie a chance, and sometimes I get caught up in really loving a movie and defending it until my mouth, ears, and nose bleeds if someone else doesn’t. And so while I was with the critics on The Last Jedi, I am surprisingly with the audience on this film, showing that I maybe shouldn’t be so quick as to call modern audiences the “Donald Trump of watching movies.”
Needless to say, if you loved Moulin Rouge (which for some reason I don’t and still don’t to this day, probably because it didn’t have original songs), you are going to love the heck out of this movie. It’s all lights, glitz, and glam, and while I do admit with some movies that doesn’t necessarily work, sometimes it doesn’t work at all, it really does here. Every five minutes we are treating to another wonderful, gorgeous song, and every single one of these songs is memorable. In fact, I am still singing almost all of them in my head this morning. This isn’t one of those musicals where everybody is fucking yelling and you can’t tell what the words to the song are. No, this is crisp, clean, and fully heard. Usually with musicals, there are one or two songs I could have done without, but this here, every single song served a purpose to the story.
And I will admit, yes, the movie is very fast paced, there are some cliches and contrivances, and some “Hollywood” movie moments that would otherwise make me grown. With this, I didn’t care. They roll over some of the basic generalizations of how P.T. Barnum started the infamous circus, and it didn’t get bogged down in heavy historical accuracy. Films like Darkest Hour, you expect that accuracy and enjoy the film that tries to follow it to a tee. Here, at the very beginning, the filmmakers let you know that this is a musical and that this is going to be very fast paced because of the style, so some extremities are going to lurk their way into the forefront to give you a tighter picture, while getting rid of some of the historical accuracy. Basically, if you are interested in historical accuracy with this, watch the movie, then go on Wikipedia to determine the boring details.
I can’t say that I have a favorite sequence here. Like I said, every song is memorable. My favorite two sequences are probably Hugh Jackman recruiting Zac Efron’s character in a bar, and Zendaya and Zac Efron professing their love to each other but knowing that the public won’t accept them. Hugh Jackman is again great in this film, and what is kind of funny is the title of the film kind of refers to him to, because he is one of the greatest showman’s of our time. Zac Efron comes back to his song and dancing roots here, and it proves once again why he became so famous with High School Musical, and why is potential still needs to be expanded upon films like Neighbors. Rebecca Ferguson is not too much in here, but her one show stopping song brought a lump in my throat, and Michelle Williams, while always good, is kind of background noise here (but that’s probably because she was focused on the upcoming All The Money In The World). The real standout in this film is Zendaya, with Spider-Man Homecoming earlier this year, and her performance in this, she is going to be a talent to be reckoned with in the near future.
Honestly if every single song nomination was from The Greatest Showman, I wouldn’t be upset at all, at least I knew it would win, but the song that it is being nominated for “This is Me” is fantastic and if that is their song going into the Oscar’s, I hope it wins. The whole movie is probably going to be a major success with audiences. It had that vibe that it will be while watching it. And if it somehow drowns with the other films out this holiday season, it is going to make a killing when it comes out on VOD and Blu-Ray. I saw this with my wife, knowing that this was her kind of film, and she loved it. I loved it to. Don’t know if I have room on my list for the best of the year, but it will definitely be on my honorable mentions list. This is a film you could watch over and over again and have a great time every single time.