Saturday, November 30, 2019

1078. The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman
Directed by Michael Gracey

The moment you have all been waiting for, where I announce the theme for November! It's musical month! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to write much. I had to get another surgery, and while that sometimes means binging on so many movies that my readers start to get concerned, this time I couldn't bring myself to watch The Greatest Showman, which was the next film lined up. I mean, it's difficult enough battling nausea after surgery without having to watch Hugh Jackman tap dance. But I managed to get this watched under the buzzer. Stay tuned for one more musical post before December hits.

P.T. Barnum dreams big, along with his childhood sweetheart, played by Michelle Williams. Does Michelle Williams ever have a role other than Long-Suffering Wife? In any case, P.T. starts to collect and celebrate misfits. He also recruits a playwright Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) who falls for one of the trapeze artists.

I can forgive a musical anything, even glitter washing history, if the songs are good. These songs are just okay, with a couple in the pretty good category. "Rewrite the Stars" and "A Million Dreams" at least had interesting choreography; I had my eyes peeled for any flashes of originality, since this was pretty derivative. I couldn't help but compare "The Other Side," a duet by Barnum and Carlyle where Barnum convinces Carlyle to join him, with "Well, Did You Evah?" from High Society. Try as they might (and they tried so hard Jackman was practically panting in every scene) they just couldn't imbue the number with the same magic that Crosby and Sinatra had.

It's much more interesting when biopics dive into the grittier aspects of their subjects, but the filmmakers were determined to behave as though Barnum was Lady Gaga, instead of a seedy slave owner who tortured animals. I guess that's fine; I don't need realism in my musicals. But I was pretty over its cloying message right from the beginning; This is Me sounds like a Katy Perry song.

I've babbled enough. Should be watched in conjunction with the other List movie, Freaks.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Jenny Lind was written with Anne Hathaway in mind.

In reality only Tom Thumb and P.T. Barnum met Queen Victoria.

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