Movie Review: “The Greatest Showman” – The Greatest Show-Off

Written by Eduard Sviridenko January 22, 2018

the greatest showman

Since childhood, the young Phineas Taylor Barnum realized that he had an amazing talent to entice people with his insane ideas, bright dreams, and unusual aspirations. In search of money, he tried many businesses but stopped at one. On the grounds of the abandoned New York museum, Barnum built a circus. Under the dome of his magical tent, Phineas gathered acrobats and strongmen, a bearded woman and Siamese twins, revealing a new world to people. However, at some point, Barnum forgot about who supported him in difficult times and for whom he built his circus empire.

In December 2016, we also had a musical on the big screen: the beautiful La La Land. But don’t get your hopes too high. The Greatest Showman is not even close to La La Land. There are almost no memorable songs, there are no scenes that make you cry, and there is no real drama. This is a typical movie that, while fairly average, at least doesn’t look boring.

“The noblest art is that of making others happy.”

However, let’s note some positive aspects of the The Greatest Showman. Of course, Hugh Jackman, dancing, and singing in a tall cylinder, looks unusually good. Especially if you remember last year’s Logan. The musical numbers are magnificent, in part to choreography. But the musical doesn’t have much else going for it. Finally, the writers were able to take a highly questionable biography of Barnum into an instructive, though naive fairy tale story about dreams, love, freedom, and equality.

the greatest showman

In the film, Barnum is portrayed as a romantic. He had to have a boring job to feed his family and start a business of his dream because he believed in miracles. However, his biography give us a completely different portrait. He was an extremely pragmatic businessman with a phenomenal business acumen. Clearly, there’s no evidence that he was a romantic. Phineas wanted to earn money at any cost and did not hesitate to exploit his troupe for 10-12 hours a day and to lie wherever possible. He was so good at pulling the wool over people’s eyes, using many of the tricks that are now widely used by advertisers and PR people. That’s why he’s called the greatest showman of his time; he’s the first master of show business.

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

The musical also actively promotes the theme of equality and tolerance, denouncing xenophobia and showing aggressive crowds insulting the freaks. Phineas himself is shown as a man without prejudices, who supports the members of the troupe in their struggle to be accepted by the society as they are. That’s an incredibly important message.

the greatest showman

Generally speaking, Barnum had a complex personality that can’t be clearly definition. And, of course, it’s completely inappropriate for such a simple movie to have an unlikable protagonist. That’s why the writers had to re-invent Phineas a little. Clearly, the historical accuracy was not their priority.

“Everyone is special, and nobody is like anyone else. That’s the point of my show.”

The Greatest Showman is able to brighten a couple of hours of your day, but it’s not a memorable film. It doesn’t have any historical accuracy; everything is very conditional and hypertrophied. The characters are two-dimensional which is why the film looks good, but fails to make a real statement and leave a lasting impression.

the greatest showman

The Greatest Showman can’t be called notable, appreciable, or memorable. There is no distinct voice, no talented soul-stirring music, and no art except within the visuals. Hugh Jackman is the film’s star, and he does what he can. But the film is just the same empty tabloid entertainment like Barnum’s circus two centuries ago. In this capacity, the film works. But I wanted more not only from the music, but from the plot. If, however, you love musicals, give this one a chance.

My Rating: 6/10

the greatest showman

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