Movie: The Greatest Showman
My Rating: 3 stars
I did not care for this movie. And that surprised me very much. Because, this is usually exactly the kind of movie I love—wild costumes, big choreographed musical numbers, a roguish, yet sympathetic protagonist. Sign me up! And, this movie did deliver all of these elements. But, unfortunately the tone was a little too sappy and on-the-nose for my taste. And, it kind of ruined the experience for me. The movie is nominally about P.T. Barnum getting started in the circus and sideshow business. I wasn’t expecting the movie to be an accurate representation of that historical scoundrel. And it wasn’t. It’s a big musical with saturated colors, dancing, and excitement everywhere you look. The movie uses the personage of P.T. Barnum as more of a stand-in for a wild and unconventional businessman. And, it ignores the seedier, more avaricious nature of the enterprise.
Hugh Jackman is nothing if not earnest. And, god-bless him for that. But watching sincere love songs, where characters gaze deeply into one another’s eyes and touch each other’s’ faces kinda makes me gag. And, this movie seems to be filled with nothing but that. And, the movie is also full of very high-roady themes, like self-acceptance and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. And while this is all very morally gratifying, it can get a bit treacly and nauseating. I don’t have a very high tolerance for cheesiness, and this movie definitely provided more than my acceptable daily dose. But, I told you I didn’t want to get too crabby in this review, so now I’m going to say some nice things.
There is still plenty to like about the movie, even if you don’t normally go in for sentimental stuff. Like I said, the movie is full of brilliant colors, and music, and excitement. It really feels like a spectacle. And, all the songs are originals. So, even though I didn’t find them to be the catchiest songs of all time, it’s an impressive feat, and they were still pretty fun. And, I was pretty impressed by the very diverse cast. Of course, it’s a Hollywood movie so the actors are all pretty attractive. But, the cast if full of people of all different sizes, shapes, and colors. It goes along with the theme of acceptance, I guess.
I don’t think you should take my personal dislike of this movie as an indication of what you should do. I recognize that I have very specific tastes and preferences. And, I can see objectively how this movie would appeal to a pretty broad audience. So, if you think this movie looks fun, by all means, go see it. I imagine that most people can stomach a higher level of sincerity than I can, so use your own judgment on this one. But just as a last warning, I thought the trailer made the movie look immensely fun. And, I felt like there was a little bit of a bait and switch.