The (not so) Greatest Showman
Update: My thoughts and feelings about this movie has changed slightly since I’ve seen this movie, so I decided to go back and change the review to reflect these changes.
Well folks we knew we would get here eventually. Every year has that one horrible Oscar bait movie that some how gets award buzz. 2016 had Collateral Beauty and this time around we got The Greatest Showman.
I don’t know how to even go about describing the plot of this. It’s wishy-washy, overly cheery, highly fictionalized version of the truth but I’ll do what I can to describe the plot of this movie. The movie follows the infamous Phineas T. Barnum as he starts his now famous circus. I really don’t know what more to say than that so I’ll just recommend you watch the trailer.
All the performances here are mediocre at best which is depressing to say of a movie where the title character is portrayed by Hugh Jackman, especially because he just gave the performance of his entire career in Logan (If he gets nominated for this instead of Logan I’m going to have a heart attack, UPDATE: He didn’t get nominated for anything). Don’t get me wrong Hugh Jackman does his best to carry the movie by giving a highly charismatic performance as P.T. Barnum but it ultimately isn’t enough to overcome an incredibly mediocre script. Michelle Williams is also fine her which is again disappointing due to her amazing performance in All The Money In The World. Almost all her scenes are over acted. Again I wouldn’t really say it’s her fault it just seemed like that was the way the script was written. Zac Effron was honestly fine in this. He tried his best to bring a suave bravado to his character that ultimately would have bolstered the movie had his subplot not been one of the weakest, most dull, boring points of the movie. Zendaya easily gives the worst performances of the year. Every scene she’s in she either over acts the hell out of it or she gives such a cardboard performance where she makes a wooden spoon look like Meryl Streep.
Before I absolutely destroy this movie let’s go over the few things it did well. One of the few things this movie does well is set design. The sets are all beautifully designed and really help immerse you in the time period…. until the soundtrack breaks that immersion wide open but for what it’s worth it had some really good set design. The other thing the movie has going for it is the choreography during the songs, especially the first one set in the bar. The cinematography was also relatively decent.
Now for the cons, buckle up because it’s going to be a long one. I’m going to start with the pacing which was just everywhere. The movie rushes through its first act, which had some really interesting material that the film makers just didn’t seem that interested in so they crammed it all into a four-minute song which is not enough to cover about 10-15 years worth of material. The movie then slugs through its second act before coming to a screeching halt at the beginning of act 3. A lot of this comes from the unnecessary sub-plots that make up the majority of acts two and three, especially the love story sub-plot between Zac Effron and Zendaya’s characters. The two barely have any screen time together yet we’re supposed to believe they’re madly in love by the end? It also just feels downright pointless because they don’t really give us too much reason to care about both of them other than they don’t fit in. Another major issue I had was the songs themselves. Each Individual song started strong with a unique sound and rhythm before turning into a generic pop song you’d hear on the radio. Not to mention that it just doesn’t suit the 1800’s time period the film is set in. The songs are also needlessly auto tuned to the point where you can’t recognize the actors voices which is a shame seeing as most the cast can sing relatively well (Hugh Jackman starred in Les Miserables). And the special effects are just laughable for the 80 million dollar budget they had to work with. The green screen is overly apparent in scenes and it pulled me straight out of the movie. A prime example of the terrible special effects (spoiler alert) is that the movie literally ends with Hugh Jackman Riding a poorly animated CGI elephant down the streets of old timey New York.
The Greatest Showman ended up being one of the worst movies of 2017. The movie is overly cheery, insincere and just downright bland for 85% of the movie. There is a compelling drama to make about the life of P.T. Barnum but this was not it. In the end this movie is little more than a poorly made way for people to stick their heads in the sand and watch something positive, even if that positivity is forced and artificial.
I rate The Greatest Showman a F or 2.2