You would be forgiven if you decided not to watch "The Greatest Showman," due to the fact that while it proclaims to be inspired by a true story, it greatly seems to be rewriting history by making it more palatable. There are many out there that don't think too favorably to what P.T. Barnum did in his life time, and this movie seemingly wants to ignore most of that. There's also the whole subject about people getting exploited for profit to consider, and this story just gives a lightly serviceable take on that matter. Without a doubt, this film can be accused of being yet another fake Hollywood take of actual history.
The story is filled with tons of derivative cliches, a bit emotionally manipulative in multiple occasions, and it's important thematic messages are handled in very superficial ways. Now let's ignore all that for a second and judge this purely as a movie musical. Well just based on the first act, I was ready to dismiss it as being much too bombastic, over-produced, unnecessarily too flashy and loud. It seemed a little too full of itself and I wanted it to take things down a notch. To my surprise, it actually did just that, and then I started to genuinely have fun with it.
One of the main saving graces of this movie musical is the soundtrack. The songs are catchy! Sure the topics cover your typical fare of being inspirational, self-affirming, uplifting, and emotionally moving. Did I mention that they are all pretty catchy? It helps that the majority of the cast actually sings their songs too! Combine all those songs to some very well choreographed sequences, and we've got ourselves a movie that does indeed work as a musical.
Besides the songs, the other element that absolutely wowed me was the whole cast. Yes, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Keala Settle, are all already known to be talented song and dance people, and they get to show off their craft on screen rather well. However, I was also highly impressed with everybody else in the supporting cast roles, from the rest of Barnum's circus-folk, the bartender, to even the daughters. I'm willing to re-watch this movie just for the song and dance scenes alone.
There are clearly issues with "The Greatest Showman" of being uneven in it's overall quality as a story and as a movie, but I still can't deny that I ended up liking it anyway. The highs this movie musical has are pretty high, and that made a difference to me. So even though there are enough reasons not to support this film, you would be forgiven if you did anyway.
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