Movie Review: 'The Greatest Showman' (2017)

Updated on April 28, 2020
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"The Greatest Showman" blu-ray cover.
"The Greatest Showman" blu-ray cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director: Michael Gracey
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Released: March 20, 2018
Availability: On DVD and blu-ray, you can rent the movie digitally on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes

The Story Is Interesting But Inaccurate

I know there are a lot of film critics who gave this movie a negative review when discussing the historical accuracy of the movie and its portrayal of P.T. Barnum, but this movie never marketed itself as a biopic or a documentary about Barnum. The film never claimed to be an accurate representation of the man himself. It’s marketed as a musical and I’m reviewing it as a musical, not as a biography or a period piece.

As a movie, I enjoyed it. If I want to learn more about the real P.T. Barnum, I can look up real documentaries about him on YouTube. I’m pretty sure his real life wasn’t a musical.

For all the complaints about the film lacking an accurate depiction of its main lead, remember that the real P.T. Barnum burnt his biography and wrote it twice, so of course he’s going to make himself look good in his own writing. He probably exaggerated some things in his autobiography and the filmmakers decided they wanted to make a movie about Barnum the way they think he would have liked, which is why they sacrificed historical accuracy for telling a story. Barnum looks nothing like Hugh Jackman.

The Greatest Showman | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

The Visual Effects are Nice

The visual effects are very well done for the movie. It’s not anything too fancy, but it does look very good. The costumes are all very nice and look fantastic and the visuals are good too. There isn’t a lot of CGI heavy effects unless you count the 3D miniatures.

They didn’t use a lot of CGI for animals because CGI animals are expensive so they only showed animals very briefly because they didn’t want to use real animals during the circus scenes.

The Actors are Fantastic!

Hugh Jackman did a fantastic job as P. T. Barnum. He was a great choice for this role. Even though critics felt that he didn’t have the “right” singing voice for this role, this is a movie that needed big star power to get audiences in theaters. He’s famous for the X-Men franchise and his fans would show up to support him if the movie was great, which it was. And he was one of the many aspects of the movie that made it work.

Zac Effron did a great job in his role as Phillip Carlyle, a character loosely based on James Anthony Bailey. He did an excellent job in both his acting and singing and I haven’t heard him sing since High School Musical 2. It was nice to hear him sing again after so long and he’s still just as talented as he was back then, except the songs aren’t high school-based and he did a great job.

Keala Settle did a fantastic job in her role as Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady, loosely based on two people, Josephine Clofullia and Annie Jones. She’s both a great actress and a terrific singer. It was interesting because I could always pick out her vocals when hearing all the group songs. She was the perfect person to sing the big standout song of the film, “This is Me”, and Hugh Jackman convinced her to be in the movie because he wanted her to sing that song (thank you, Hugh). Now I associate that song with her and it is a very uplifting and inspirational song.

The rest of the cast is fantastic and I really enjoyed seeing them on screen. Both the actors and the dancers were phenomenal and they hit it out of the park when it came to the casting.

Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady,
Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady,

The Greatest Show

The Music Is Fantastic!

Now you might be thinking that I’m just saying the music is nice because I like musicals. I am not a person who likes musicals most of the time. I’m just not into them; there have to be a lot of factors for me to like a musical. I have to like the story, or at least think I’ll like the story for me to consider watching it. If it’s a big Hollywood musical, I really have to like the actors in it, and I like Hugh Jackman and Zac Effron.

The music also has to be really good, because sometimes people randomly bursting into song is really unnatural and weird. It has to be a specific setting for a musical to get me to believe people would start singing.

I really enjoyed all the musical numbers for this film. They’re all very well written songs that are sung by an excellent cast of singers and I enjoyed all the songs.

The dance choreography is also amazing and very well done. Not only are the musical numbers spectacular but the dancing is also performed by Broadways’ best dancers.

The Greatest Showman (2017) brings down the house in the categories it needs to, music and dance. The music is fantastic and very well done and it’s entertaining to watch.

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Hugh Jackman as PT Barnum.
Hugh Jackman as PT Barnum. | Source

It’s a Fun Musical That Everyone Can Enjoy If You’re Willing to Try It

I know that musicals aren’t for everyone, because I’m not big on musicals myself. But I gave this a chance because I liked some of the actors and while I enjoyed it, I know that if you’re not really into musicals you might end up skipping this one.

But if you like the actors in this movie, you’ll definitely be interested in checking it out. I dislike musicals most of the time, but I really enjoyed this film.

Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Interesting story,
People looking for an accurate biography will be disappointed
Great acting
Musicals might not appeal to everyone
Great songs and soundtrack

My Grade: B+

The Greatest Showman (2017) is a thrilling musical with a wonderful cast and a heartwarming message about what family is. It might be hokey in places and seem silly but I found it to be very enj0oyable.

It might not win you over to falling in love with musicals but the songs are fun if you like modern music and you enjoy musicals you’ll probably enjoy this movie. I got this for free from my local library so I didn’t have to pay for it, but if you love the film you really should buy it.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys musicals, but don’t expect historical accuracy for a film based on a man who burnt his biography twice. Just go into the movie expecting some show stopping fun and enjoy the spectacle. This might not be a historically accurate movie but I had fun watching it, and I’m not one for musicals but I liked it a lot.

If you’re not really into musicals, this probably isn’t the one that’s going to blow your mind and make you into a fan of musicals, unless you like modern musicals, because this is a modern musical, like the ones on Broadway that use modern music genres for their songs.

It might not belong in every moviegoer’s collection, but I’m sure fans of modern musicals will enjoy it a lot. I only like certain types of musicals and it has to be something that I find interesting. I liked this movie a lot and I do not really enjoy musicals that much because they just aren’t something that I watch all that often, but if I enjoyed it, you might too.

My Rating:

4 stars for Movie Review: The Greatest Showman (2017)

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