The Greatest Showman

  • 13 Jan - 19 Jan, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

The Greatest Showman (TGS) has booming songs, charismatic actors, an empowerment message and a family friendly attitude in the pocket – however, what it does not have is depth and gravitas, but that is not a requirement for this movie.

Inspired from the life of American showman and entertainer, P. T. Barnum – a guy known to put up a show at any cost, be it through fooling the audience, or blowing their minds with a larger than life experience, or just delivering anything other than normal.

Plot wise, the movie starts with Barnum’s childhood. He is a poor tailor’s son. The man his father sew clothes for is snobby and rich. Barnum still goes ahead and falls in love with his daughter, who also reciprocates. A fantastically touching song A Million Dreams moves their story through the ages and struggles till they grow up, (now Jackman and Michelle Williams) married, with a family of their own.

After Barnum is out of a job, he takes a loan and sets up his own museum of wax oddities and weirdness; and quickly moves onto making a show that gives a platform to the different and outcast under one roof.

TGS takes the myth and grandness of Barnum and reimagines the man from top to bottom. We are left with Hugh Jackman, and boy does he bring a unique spin to Barnum.

Jackman, with Les Miserables and his past and ongoing acting and musical career on stage, is the best thing about TGS – besides the original songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, of La La Land. His benefits as a musical actor, be it in dance or songs, elevates the musical numbers’ sensitivity and allure. Each of the 11 musical numbers are noteworthy and striking, especially the goosebumps inducing The Greatest Show and A Million Dreams.

First time director, Michael Gracey, ties the movie up neat and precise with a bow. TGS, strives to be an entertainer with heart and wholesomeness rather than a complex struggle or a journey. It also completely disregards drama and dimension to plot or character. The shallowness is especially evident in the way conflict and resolution appear and disappear without struggle or emotional weight.

That does not mean the film has no regard for entertainment. If anything, it is hell-bent on making the audience sit up and take notice of the amazing songs – which hands down are the best songs one would have heard this past year.

It predisposes itself as a family-friendly musical, focused only on amuse with its pageantry, while not bothering much with anything else, but yes the songs. •