The Greatest Showman (2017) – Michael Gracy

Last night I had a chance to take in Hugh Jackman’s passion project, The Greatest Showman, a musical based on the life of P.T. Barnum, as well as his famed circus. Jackman plays the titular character and easily slips back into his song and dance roots.

Joining him on-screen is Michelle Williams, as Barnum’s wife, Charity, Zac Efron as his business partner, Philip Carlyle, Zendaya as trapeze artist, Anne Wheeler, Rebecca Ferguson as songstress Jenny Lind, and Keala Settle as the scene-stealing bearded lady, Lettie Lutz.

Featuring music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the film is nothing short of spectacle.

The film is solid, engaging, and lets Jackman shine.

I made sure to keep an eye on production design, and was delighted to see that the backgrounds for a lot of sequences were rendered to look real at first glance, but on examination, they are painted images, playing with impressionism, more than realism, in fact, it is more akin to Barnum flyers than reality, and that is a nice touch.

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The music is great, the lyrics perfect. I only have one caveat about it. The music is very much a reflection of 2017, and that makes me wonder about the enduring appeal of the film. It’s a well-crafted, joyously paced and filled with a positive message. The anthem This is Me, should transcend the film. But will the songs remain? The style of music is very much of today, but will that be the same situation in five years, in ten?

I hope the film endures, and it deserves to be seen in the theatre. Spectacle such as this needs to be seen on the big screen. The entire cast does their own singing, but for Ferguson (she declined for excellent reasons, and was dubbed by Loren Allred), and their efforts are all on the screen.

Unfortunately, not everyone can go toe to toe with Jackman. While Efron can sing and dance, his acting skills are, at best, wooden. Everyone else shines around him and the film is emotional, joyous, and filled with great music (I’ve already Spotified the soundtrack).

As a personal aside, I was a little bummed that Chang (Yusaku Komori) and Eng (Danial Son), the Siamese twins weren’t given much to do. But I very much enjoyed this one!

Sometimes you just want to be entertained when you go to the movies, and The Greatest Showman does that.

It’s everything you want.

It’s everything you need.

And it’s here right in front of you.

The Greatest Showman is in theatres now.

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