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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Greatest Showman 2017 * * Stars

Image result for the greatest showman movie posterDirector: Michael Gracey
Year: 2017
Rated PG
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams

The Greatest Showman is my latest assessment. It is touted as a musical. Therefore, how can I possibly recommend "Showman" if its best scenes don't involve the actors and/or actresses breaking into song.

Anyway, The Greatest Showman comes off like hasty rags to riches stuff. It tests your show tunes patience but it could never be mistaken as boring. "Showman" is meager and flashy and I guess, betters something like 2014's Into the Woods. In truth, Into the Woods didn't have an actual hint of a story. "Showman" in fits and starts, sort of does. 

Image result for the greatest showman movie scenesThroughout "Showman", I kept wondering what the late P. T. Barnum (the movie's subject and true-life inspiration) would have thought had he been alive to see it. He probably would've marveled at "Showman's" energy and playful, near period look. At the same time, P. T. would've scoffed at the lack of depth used to recreate his own life's account.

The Greatest Showman feels like a modern day take on Barnum's inception of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. It has lavish dance numbers accompanied by contemporary melodies that pound you over the head with their Muzak-like senses.

Rookie director Michael Gracey thinks he's making an Academy Award winner with "Showman". The unfortunate validity is that his film lacks artistic merit and has an unintentional "popcorn" feel to it. Gracey fills The Greatest Showman with plenty of razzle-dazzle. His pace is feverish with roving camera movements and a few whip pans. Sure his "Showman" has a narrative but its narrative is arbitrarily slight and takes shortcuts. Gracey would rather have his flick "show" off musically, freakishly, and visually. That explains the running time of The Greatest Showman which is a less-than-monumental 105 minutes.

Related image"Showman", with its characters comprised of a bearded lady, a dwarf, and an acrobat, stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Michelle Williams. Jackman takes on the title role of P. T. Barnum. Jackman in a way, is almost perfectly cast. He's got the looks, he can dance, and he can act. The problem is that he's not much of a singer. As for Efron, well it feels like he took on his "Showman" role to shake off his image of appearing in lots of teenage sex comedies. Here's the problem: The Greatest Showman is not quite the vehicle to break Zac out of his raunchy, frat boy shell. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson


  1. Jesse, this is the first and last review of yours I will read.

    I attended a showing of "The Greatest Showman" tonight, and it brought down the house. The crowd cheered and clapped as the credits began rolling.

    This was an amazing and well-done bit of entertainment. The greatest showman would have been proud as it embodied everything this movie stated he represented.

  2. Well thanks for coming on my blog for at least one review.

    I saw a screening of The Greatest Showman on Xmas day in Niles, MI. The theater was sold out but at the end, no one cheered and there was muted clapping. I guess the movie is a love/hate affair.

  3. Ok, so I've had a good night's sleep, and I wake up and realize there was no need to get fussy and offended by your critique of the film, though I disagree. Is it possible to delete comments and start over?

    Truthfully, on my phone, I googled the movie to find out what the so-called critics are saying, simply because I find myself at odds with their perspective almost every time I check out a movie - that it's entertaining. Somehow I found a site that had loads of links to different critics, and that is how I found you. I didn't even know I was on a blog and certainly didn't expect to get a reply!

    Do you normally discuss the movies you critique with your readers?

    Now I'm afraid to navigate away from this page for fear of not being able to find it again.

    What is the web address to your blog?