Time: 105 Minutes
Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum
Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle
Michelle Williams as Charity Hallett-Barnum
Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind
Zendaya as Anne Wheeler
Director: Michael Gracey
Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
I didn’t know what I would think of The Greatest Showman. There seemed to be quite the hype for it, with it seeming to promise an entertaining musical with some good songs. There was a lot of talent involved with Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and others involved. However, I had a feeling that it would just be entertaining but not that great overall as a movie. Unsurprisingly, that was pretty much what I got. The Greatest Showman is entertaining but there’s not a whole lot of substance, it’s flashy and stylistic and has actors you love performing some great songs but that seems to be all it really has to offer. The movie even gets worse when you look into it more, as the way the filmmakers try to use the story of real life person P.T. Barnum to make it a musical is highly questionable at best. However there is still fun to be had with the movie.
Even outside of its accuracy to real life issues, The Greatest Showman does have some plot issues. At times it was trying hard to get you feel things but it felt shallow and by the numbers. The story is also quite predictable, there aren’t really any surprises. Despite it being an hour and 45 minutes long, it drags at some points, particularly in between the flashy sequences. There are some aspects that feel not as interesting like with Rebecca Fergusson’s character, there was quite a lot of focus on her and then she just disappears from the movie at some point. It feels like all that time should’ve been spent between Zac Efron and Zendaya as their storyline were a little more interesting. Now onto possibly the biggest fault of the movie. From what I can tell, this movie isn’t very accurate at all, usually I’m a little lenient on some movies based on true events but this is a case where a lot of the changes really bothered me. From what little I researched about P.T Barnum, The Greatest Showman makes him unbelievably likable in comparison to his real self. In retrospect, they really should’ve just taken some inspiration from P.T. Barnum and create their own story completely. Earlier I mentioned how Rebecca Fergusson’s character didn’t fit in with the movie, apparently she plays a real life person named Jenny Lind, once again if they only took inspiration for the story they wouldn’t have to put her in the movie (it is also worth noting that they got a lot of things about Lind wrong). Zac Efron and Zendaya’s characters also never existed in real life, despite them being some of the main characters of the film. It’s like someone saw a very rough outline of P.T. Barnum’s life and what he did, took random bits out and turned it into a musical. All the faults of the movie as a story are made even worse by the inaccuracies to real life, if they could just make up things, why couldn’t they write a better story? So for enjoyment’s sake, I just look at this movie as a fictional musical. P.T. Barnum is not a good subject of focus for a musical, if they really wanted to make The Greatest Showman and have it inspired by some of Barnum’s life, they should’ve just taken some aspects but otherwise make just about everything fictional, and also don’t claim to attempt to basing the movie off of him. Inaccuracies aside, the story is just passable at best, nothing really that special.
Hugh Jackman is good as always, whether it comes to acting, dancing and singing. As I said previously, he’s not really playing P.T. Barnum, for the way that his role was written though, he was good at it. Just imagine that here he’s playing someone named P.T. Barnum who isn’t related to the real life P.T. Barnum. The supporting cast with Zac Efron, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, and others were also good. Although her character wasn’t so great, Rebecca Fergusson was good enough in her role, although it felt a little odd and out of place that the rest of the main cast sung whereas her singing was dubbed by Loren Allred.
The Greatest Showman’s greatest strengths aside from its actors is the direction and the music. It is directed rather well by director Michael Gracey, who makes his directorial debut here. The musical sequences are all pretty great, the choreography, cinematography, production design, everything is on point, if rather over the top, overblown and silly at certain points. Nearly all the songs are great, with maybe 2 or 3 songs paling in comparison to the rest of the songs. It is a very flashy and entertaining movie, I can say that, which helps make the so-so story somewhat bearable.
The Greatest Showman was entertaining but that’s all I can really say about this movie. Aside from the good performances from the actors, some flashy and fun sequences and the songs, it really is a sort of passable movie with a shallow and average story which relies way too heavily on its style and its entertainment factor over having enough actual substance. The inaccuracies to the story just make the movie worse and are more bothersome the more you look into it. I will say that I still did enjoy watching The Greatest Showman, but there is a lot of things wrong with it. I’d say give it a chance if you like some musicals, just don’t expect it to be mindblowing amazing and be aware that this movie might as well have nothing to do with the real life P.T. Barnum. Accuracy aside, it is still an entertaining movie and to a degree I recommend checking it out, despite its faults.