As I’ve mentioned before, I stupidly went to see – sigh – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, instead of The Greatest Showman. I complained about that mistake at least twice every millisecond.
That’s why one friend took it upon themselves to take me to see the Hugh Jackman musical, and in return, I bought the sweets. They’re also a very healthy eater, so I took it upon myself to eat them. I don’t like being referred to as a ‘hero’, but if the boot fits…
Inspired by the life of American showman, P. T. Barnum – who, if you Google Image, you’ll notice is a darn-sight uglier than Hugh Jackman – The Greatest Showman is a musical romp which details the creation of the circus. As expected, it’s visually very pretty. The choreography is exciting, but I can’t help but groan at the dodgy CGI; as Zendaya swings around Zac Efron on a rope, you can clearly see she’s been stood in front of a green screen with a fan wafting her hair every so often, rather than actually performing the stunts. I get it – Zendaya is acting as a gymnast; she’s not actually one. But there are several times were the poor special effects really take you out of the realism of the movie – they shrunk Sam Humphrey, to appear as Charles Stratton, a dwarf performer. How he can perform with that dodgy, clunky walk that the editors gave him I’ll never know. Even moments where Hugh Jackman jumps on a train are poorly edited, and he looks like a dodgy side-character in a Mario game. (Don’t worry – he didn’t tread on any turtle heads and fling their corpses.)
Hugh Jackman is – as expected – absolutely charming as P. T. Barnum, and commands the screen from the very beginning. He’s flamboyant and excitable. It’s a shame to say that other characters in the picture didn’t have a similar level of development. Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Zendaya is billed as one of the leading actors, yet she really doesn’t have much reason to be a part of The Greatest Showman. Her whole story arc is that she is a love interest for Zac Efron. She has very little to say in the movie, so it’s assumed that the only reason Zac’s Phillip Carlyle is interested in her is because he thinks she’s a bit fit. It’s not as if he sang with her in a ski lodge during winter break on New Year’s Eve, then spent part of summer working alongside at a friend’s family country club, only to play as understudies in their school’s play, before graduating.
I like the High School Musical trilogy, okay? So shoot me.
Zendaya isn’t the only secondary cast member who is less-than-memorable. 98% of P. T. Barnum’s “freaks” who weren’t really necessary. Aside from Lettie Lutz (played by the great Keala Settle) there’s The Huge Man, The Huge Man, The Huge Man and The “Siamese Twins”, who pretty much just appear in the background to make the scenes look more whimsical.
I’m not going to lie – I know as much about P. T. Barnum as I do on how to pull – so I went into the screening not knowing really what to expect. But as watching what was a formulaic rags-to-riches tale, I did a bit of research, and the plot didn’t seem to follow his life too closely. But who cares about that when you’ve got… The music. Sweet merciless fuck. That music.
Despite being set in the late 1800s, the music is very current and I defy anyone not to enjoy it. I’m trying to put out a public service announcement to ensure everyone downloads the original soundtrack as soon as possible. Hugh Jackman is, as the title says, a great showman and there’s plenty of good musicals in him. The choreography and performances are incredible. Like the CGI, I hoped there’d be more impressive moments in the dance routines. During The Other Side, Zac and Hugh have a dance off in a bar while sliding shots to one another, it seems to have been edited in post, but imagine how dope that would be if all of these stunts were real. Heck, they could have brought me in; I know my way around a bar. hahahahahelpmeplease.
While it’s an enjoyable watch, if you’re looking for the stand-out musical, get back to last year’s La La Land. The Greatest Showman is fun and the soundtrack is incredible, but the plot is predictable. Then again, it’s still a heap load better than – shudder – Jumanji.