A Fun Musical Lacking Drama
Although The Greatest Showman lacks any long lasting drama, glossing over the real life controversy surrounded P.T. Barnum, this visually appealing explosion of music and colour easily overshadows some of these issues. The simple rags-to-riches story is told well and fronted by Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, give the film a much needed charisma that helps make it such a feel good musical.
The story begins with Phineas Taylor Barnum as a child. Poor, orphaned but incredibly ambitious, Barnum picks himself up from the depths of poverty and after the first of The Greatest Showman’s many songs, skips forward to show him as an adult where we spend the rest of the film watching as Barnum (Hugh Jackman) inspires those around him to join his circus. The plot is more than a little predictable at times and although many are sure to prefer this over La La Land which combined musical with drama to good effect, The Greatest Showman is a full on musical, gracing it’s 133 minute run time with as many songs as possible. In doing so, Showman lacks any real drama and the moments that do include a dose of dramatic tension are quickly dissipated with a neat Hollywood sized bow to resolve any ensuing issues as quickly as possible.
The Greatest Showman is all about the music and thankfully there’s some great song choices here. P.T. Barnum’s partner in crime Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) boasts a great vocal range alongside Jackman. The two female vocalists, European superstar Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) and the bearded wonder Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle) make up the quartet of singers that dominate the musical numbers and although there are some interesting juxtapositions between Lettie and Jenny, they’re never really explored which is a real shame. There’s never a time in The Greatest Showman where you feel the characters are in any sort of trouble and it does make for quite the passive watch. Still, the musical numbers are excellent and audiences are sure to love the good work put into this part of the film.
As you’d expect from a stacked cast, The Greatest Showman is solid in the acting department and Zac Efron is arguably one of the stand outs here. Ir’s amazing how far Zac has come since his humble beginnings in High School Musical and his performance in Showman is both maturely handled and subtle, making him one of the driving forces to try and inject the film with some much needed drama. The chemistry between him and Jackman is great too and their musical number together is arguably one of the most underrated songs in the film. The cinematography is good too here and although there are a few odd editing choices and a couple of confusing scene switches mid-way through songs, on the whole The Greatest Showman does a great job cramming as much of the action into the frame as possible.
The Greatest Showman is a really good musical that just lacks a real bite of drama as it glosses over some of the real life controversy surrounding P.T. Barnum. Although the plot does attempt to inject a few lacklustre attempts at drama in the form of a Jenny Lind scandal and tension between him and his original acts, The Greatest Showman resolves these at breakneck speed, focusing instead on the music and rags-to-riches story to drive the narrative forward. Thankfully, the music is The Greatest Showman’s greatest asset and there’s some superbly worked songs that make it easy to ignore some of the inherent flaws with the film. The Greatest Showman is a reminder that films can be fun and for that alone, this musical is well worth checking out.
Verdict - 7.5/10