Movies: The Greatest Showman

* Claws sold separately.

“Do these smiles seem fake? It doesn’t matter where they come from. The joy is real.”

Two minutes into this, my wife said she knew exactly where it was going. Penniless man becomes rich, forgets the friends who helped him, has a major setback, and discovers his real richness is his friends and family.

No surprises there in the storyline, to be honest. But it’s a musical, after all, and the story really only exists to join the songs together.

I loved the way some of the shots were framed so symmetrically. I noticed it a few times – in the Jenny Lind scenes and when Barnum is leaving to go on tour with her and his kids run after him.

The colour choices were all grand as well. It was nice to see a film not done in orange and teal for a change. I liked the solid and thick colours of the costumes and sets, all with the feel of a well loved and well used circus.

I wonder how well the soundtrack will hold up.

And Hugh Jackman, as usual, looks like he’s having a blast running through all his songs and routines.

What didn’t work so well for me (and my wife) was the choice of a contemporary soundtrack. Contemporary isn’t something I listen to a lot, so for me it bounced me out of the numbers more than pulling me into them. I found a lot of repetition going on because I was analysing the music rather than enjoying it.

It felt unfamiliar to my ears, so it felt uncomfortable. I do wonder how well the soundtrack will hold up in a decade or so, but people still listen and watch Cats and Chess, after all.

But when I could relax into the numbers, I enjoyed them more: The This is Me song was a showstopper. I adored the part where the bearded lady spins while everyone else is in slow motion. I loved the Rewrite the Stars trapeze song and the routine was wonderful and inventive. I’m still humming the Million Dreams song a few days later, so they did something right!

But it felt like there should have been more wonder…there should have been more spectacle and amazement. More songs and routines like the trapeze and the slow-motion spin. I should have been blown away more.

It isn’t something I’d watch more than once all the way through, but I’d watch parts again – the This is Me song and Rewrite the Stars, in particular. It’s a shame; there seemed so much potential there that wasn’t used.

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