I read that it took Hugh Jackman 10 years to get The Greatest Showman made. It is visually lush and grand and incredibly appealing, but quite cheesy for such an extended labor of love. I can’t help but mourn how epic the film could have been with some tweaks.
However, after some reflection and lots of feedback from friends of all ages who saw it and loved it, I realized that The Greatest Showman is not just a holiday feel-good film; it is a litmus test for cynicism.
First of all, I don’t do musicals. I cringed and scoffed every time someone started singing their dialogue.
Secondly, the movie is entirely without irony. It’s almost embarrassing, how earnest it is. And yet…aside from aforementioned scoffing, I smiled throughout the whole production, and paid attention. Truth is, The Greatest Showman made me happy. It was a whirlwind of color and sound and lush vibrancy – exactly like, well, the circus.
In an unusual twist, Jackman and director Michael Gracey speak directly to the audience at the beginning, and thank us for coming to enjoy the movie the way it’s supposed to be experienced – on the big screen. And that’s what happens, if we can suspend our post-Seinfeld era snarky inner critics, and let ourselves be swept away and entertained.
Really, really short review: The Greatest Showman is not highbrow, but it is pure Old Hollywood grandeur and romance.