By Zach Smith (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

 

No film released in 2017 actually pitted my Analytical and Creative sides against each other quite like The Greatest Showman that being said I can honestly say that after two viewings of this film, each time I left the theatre a wide smile was securely fastened to my face. This is a film that I would refer to as a mixed bag for sure; it features some fantastic performances from its lead cast, (most notably Hugh Jackman), seamlessly blended musical elements with terrific sound mixing and choreography, as well as some very commendable camera work and direction’ however, various issues with its screenplay as well as many blatant historical inaccuracies to promote its ‘happy go lucky’ nature do hold this film back from reaching its full potential.

Michael Gracey makes his directorial debut with this film, and it’s hard not to be impressed with the result despite some issues we will get into. Gracey did some terrific work behind the camera in this film, and I look forward to seeing what new projects he takes on in the future. It is well publicized now that Hugh Jackman’s vision and passion was really the driving force behind the making of this film, and that passion absolutely oozes off the screen in every scene he is in. Not only is Jackman’s acting ability spotlighted here but his remarkable singing ability as well, which held up seamlessly with his fellow cast mates with known singing backgrounds such as Zendaya and Zac Efron. Efron once again shows us how much he has grown and matured as an actor and a singer since his days as Troy Bolton in High School Musical. The performances in this film musically and theatrically were top notch, and really helped turn this film into something special despite some of its looming issues.

One of the biggest criticisms a lot of people have with The Greatest Showman is the fact that the incredibly intriguing and true story of P.T Barnum was put to the side in exchange for a family friendly ‘happy go lucky’ musical. Jackman’s performances in The Greatest Showman, although highly praised, could also be heavily critiqued based on his inaccurate portrayal of P.T Barnum’s true characteristics. Barnum’s true dark and problematic past is for the most part disregarded in place of a family friendly musical with an oversimplified story tied together with catchy musical numbers and flashy dance routines. The film tends to jump into a musical number instead of writing itself more of a cohesive story in hopes that audiences look over its very bland and generic story arches. If the musical element was taken away from this film, you would probably have one of the most bland and boring films of the year.

One of the most important things to get right in a musical is quite obviously… THE MUSIC, is it good? Does it blend with the tone of the film? Is the music seamlessly integrated into the story? To all of these questions I would give a resounding YES. This film may have some story issues as well as a lot of criticism in regards to character portrayal, but with that all being said, as a musical and as a feel good family movie; this film definitely succeeds on everything it set out to accomplish. The Greatest Showman is by no means a perfect movie, as perfection is merely subjective; however, it is definitely going to reward most of you with a very good time in the theatre, as well as leaving quite a few of its surprisingly catchy tunes in your head for days to come.

Rating: 3/5

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