Why “The Greatest Showman” Is NOT The Greatest

Disclaimer: if you haven’t watched “The Greatest Showman” and you don’t want any expectations ruined, you better skip this post and go ahead.

Okay, okay, before I elaborate the reason why I ‘mock’ everyone’s favorite lately, I must inform you that I watch this movie without any expectation. I hadn’t heard anything about The Greatest Showman until the day I accidentally saw the trailer on a local cinema while I and my dad queued for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The trailer didn’t enchant me the way Pitch Perfect 3‘s enchanted me (which happened to roll on the screen right after The Greatest Showman‘s trailer). Just compare it yourself:

To me, The Greatest Showman‘s trailer is lacking of conflicts and baits. The trailer only emphasizes its audio and visual aspects, it doesn’t sell the story. On the contrary, Pitch Perfect 3‘s trailer has everything a trailer should has: short and catchy line(s) that describes the whole conflict the movie is about. It also has interesting puns (thanks to Amy!)(but I’m fully aware though that puns won’t be available on The Greatest Showman since both of them are on the different pole of the genre spectrum).

However, since I don’t want to miss any Oscar-potential movies, I decided to watch The Greatest Showman too, without any expectation. Plus, people say that it is even better than the anticipated Insidious 4, so why not? Turns out… I like it! Despite the trailer, The Greatest Showman gives me more satisfaction than Pitch Perfect 3!

Yes, I admit it, The Greatest Showman is totally a movie worth watching. It is great, really. But why do I still think that it is not the greatest?

Now that I’ve watched The Greatest Showman, I put it on the same class as La La Land. Why? Because both of them are musicals and quite phenomenal.

Comparing those two makes me notice flaws in The Greatest Showman. But before I go, I must inform the great things about The Greatest Showman to make it fair:

Its audio and visual are really pleasing.

The great thing about The Greatest Showman is that the crew managed to find the perfect cast for the characters. All of them are so good on screen: eye-pleasing, great at acting, and able to sing!

You can see the chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams when they’re on screen. I see that both of them are suitable for each other ’till I and my friend (who I went to the movie with) panicked when P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) started being flirty with Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). You can also see the chemistry between Zac Efron and Zendaya when they sing “Rewrite The Stars”.

Plus, the colors of the scenes (although still not good as La La Land‘s) are able to make us feel the mood the story wants us to feel. Bright colors coated with upbeat lyrics and tones really make me want to sing and dance (although I can’t). Dark Manhattan sky with some household fumes make me feel like I was suffering the way they do. The depiction is great, honestly.

The set is neatly arranged too. I can see that the crew put lots of effort on it, mostly on the costumes. Dang, the costumes are so old fashioned (and it is a good thing, of course, considering its era of the story)! I wonder… is it possible for The Greatest Showman to win the Oscars for The Best Costume Design this year?

The last great thing about The Greatest Showman is the lyrics of the song they sing. The lyrics really speaks its singer’s heart.. it is the kind of song that touches your soul, kind of. When I heard it, I feel like I was waiting for the next part of the song because I want to know what can possibly happen next. Although the lyrics are better than La La Land’s or Beauty and The Beast’s (another musical you must have heard of), I don’t find it as catchy as La La Land’s.

Yes, The Greatest Showman is great, but for me, there are still some flaws that keep it a little lower than La La Land on my personal chart:

1. The story can be easily guessed.

Since the very beginning of the movie, everything seems so smooth. Although P.T. Barnum has lots of misfortune, he seems like he’s able to overcome his problem eventually. You won’t see a lot of his struggle on the movie and that will make you feel like everything is kinda easy for him. The father of the girl he likes disapproves him… but hey, look, he get her eventually! He’s fired from his job… but hey, look, he has a tricky idea! And so on. It is unlike the characters in La La Land or in Sing whose struggles can bring out our empathy.

So, as I watched the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking “What is the big conflict which he cannot overcome easily?”. And until the end, I don’t see one. There is too many small conflicts until there’s no big fat conflict as its main attraction.

2. Unexplained cases and unfinished conflicts.

  1. When P.T. Barnum mails Charity regularly, what is his address? Isn’t he homeless? How could he still receive messages from her?
  2. What does he, a poor little boy, do on his childhood and teen age ’till he can walk up to Charity’s parents’ door to ask for her with a clean suit and a fancy hat attached to his body?
  3. Okay, what’s wrong with P.T. Barnum and apples? You can see two apples on this movie: one when P.T. Barnum is still a boy and one when P.T. Barnum is already a dad. The problem is, you don’t get to see him finish eating the first one! Undoubtedly, you’ll mistaken the second apple as the first one because the second appears on screen not long after the first!
  4. Why does people keep saying that he is a fraud and his circus is fake?
  5. What happened to the protesters? Does moving the circus to a tent on the outskirts of Manhattan silence them?

I wanted to add “He’s very stupid because he buy a lavish gigantic house instead of paying his debt” to the list, but that won’t be fair.

The flaws aren’t that many, but those still disturb me from completely enjoying the movie. Nonetheless, the great things about The Greatest Showman can still cover its flaws, making it still eligible as one of the movies you recommend to friends.

If you have watched the movie and you agree or disagree with me, tell me on the comment section below! I’d love to know what you think. (Wow, I sound like a YouTube-er). Arrivederci!

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