It’s nice to see musicals coming back.
The closest way to describe The Greatest Showman is that it’s Moulin Rouge with music done by Fall Out Boy. Or music that sounds like Fall Out Boy. It’s loud, it’s bombastic. Every musical number has to be a spectacle, which is actually in keeping with the spirit of P.T. Barnum, or at least, P.T. Barnum as imagined by this movie. It’s an intriguing premise and one that the film follows through with, even if the storyline dips into the cliche.
The problem comes from how unmemorable the music is. Sure, in the moment, the music is fantastic and you feel yourself nodding to the beat and maybe even singing along if you’re brave enough. Once you leave the theater, however, you realize just how much the music all just blended together.
I find myself not really minding that much for this movie. There’s a quote that from this very film that seems to describe movies like this quite well: “I’m not making art. I’m making entertainment.” Those might not be the exact words but the sentiment still stands. This film is pure entertainment and as that it succeeds. It intends to put a smile on your face and that’s what it does.
The themes of acceptance and happiness are there and done well, with the side story involving Zac Efron and Zendaya and the dangers of an interracial relationship during this time period being one of the highlights, if not because of Efron and Zendaya’s chemistry. Hugh Jackman gives one of his most enjoyable performances and proves that if allowed to actually sing, he is a pretty good singer.
The film is not meant to be high art or the greatest movie ever (contrary to the title of the film). All it is trying to do is to make you laugh, to make you smile, to make you forget your troubles while you’re in the theater. And for me, it succeeded, even if the film will more likely than not fade into obscurity.