The Greatest Showman: All Soundtrack, No Substance?

It’s a rainy Sunday and a thousand and one ideas are buzzing around in my head as to what my next post should be about.

To quiet my thoughts I consider doing the one thing that usually calms me down – going for a walk but one look outside soon quells that idea! So instead I reach into my carefully collated To-Watch list. As I’m scrolling through I quickly filter out all the thrillers, horrors and such, it is still the Lord’s Day after all and I soon settle on the Christmas release of  Michael Gracey’s semi-biopic ‘The Greatest Showman’ an easy enough watch. Armed with a cosy blanket and a tub of Magnum ice cream (white chocolate of course – honestly who ever would have thought putting the classic ice cream in a tub would be so life-changing !)

I’d previously heard a little buzz about the $84 million production, a musical written by ‘Dreamgirl’s’ Bill Condon & ‘SATC’s’ Jenny Bick (I mean if her writing could hide the fearsome feud between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall what can’t she do!?)

It’s headlined by the multi-talented Hugh Jackman, supported by Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya and breakout star Keala Settle.  But I didn’t actually get around to watching it until after the new year especially because it was released in the UK on Boxing day. Call me old-fashioned (I’d quite prefer the term ’90s baby’ if I’m honest) but Christmas Season to me is more so Home Alone on BBC2 as opposed to £15 for a new Box Office release (even if I do have a Cineworld membership – what can I say I’m a creature of habit!) I’m getting distracted  again …. back to the film! galleryx-1513337323-the-greatest-showman-cast-hugh-jackman
I won’t lie to you guys, you could give it a miss if  you wanted to or at least keep it on the back-burner until it was ‘That Time of Year’ again. Frankly speaking it isn’t the best of story-lines, but the relationship this film cultivated with its’ viewers and its ever-growing success is about a lot more than just a plot for various reasons:

  1. The Script & Story-line line are comparable to experiencing a Flash Flood.

    So, I started this movie wanting to love everything about it, I mean with an all-star cast and an insanely large budget the prudent side in me was looking for something of worth. But without giving too much away (we don’t do spoilers around here) I found my two eyes steadily fixated on the screen and yet I still had no idea how the plot had moved so quickly! It honestly was like watching a flash flood there she goes again with the dramatics; all this build up and then its –crash bang- over before you know it! No seriously I got to the end and actually had to re-watch because I was that baffled as to how it had come and gone so quickly.

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2. Yet, the acting and the Production are almost impeccable …

Each cast member was committed to each and every scene, I wanted so badly to buy whatever struggle they were vigorously selling to me and would have, if only I could conclusively identify what they were actually selling! *shrugs*.
Plus it was clear no expense was spared on production and cinematography, it was all glitz, glam choreography,elephants & lions (I kid you not!)
I suppose it’s like watching a Japanese horror film (which FYI are the best ones) without subtitles: being so entirely captivated but having absolutely no idea what the heck is going on, and even those are easier to follow! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the storyline was overly complex, I mean I’ve watched ‘Donnie Darko’ 10x over since I was 14, complex I can do!  This was rather the opposite – it was way too simple, I wasn’t able to make one single emotional connection to any of the main characters which somehow made their plights unbelievable, but I mean who needs to connect with a glazed storyline as long as the pictures are pretty… right, right!?

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3. The Real Life P.T. Barnum is a bit of a *insert your own expletive*

It wasn’t until I did a little bit of research I realised that the film is meant to be a glamorized Bio-pic of the real life showman P.T Burnam. In the film , he’s a ‘lowly-born’ tailor striving for his American Dream of an inclusive, dazzling, life-changing, world-renown showbusiness/ circus [no exaggeration he really does aim this high!] Whereas the real life fella?  A tad more razzle, a little less dazzle who probably would have been thrilled by the watered-down, sensationalized PC  version of him played by the handsome Hugh Jackman. Point & case? Parading around George Washington’s supposed ‘mami’ before and after her death, as an attraction! But I’ll leave it at that, feel free to the Google him.

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4. That Blooming Good Soundtrack!

This film would easily be forgettable if it wasn’t for two key elements: the aforementioned acting/cast and secondly the  RIDICULOUSLY good soundtrack. It’s almost as if Ben Pasek & Justin Paul went ahead and wrote one heck of an album and then Gracey, Condon & Bicks decided to make a film to accompany it after the fact. Filled with awe-inspiring numbers, spell-binding ensembles and finished with the Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe winning  ‘This is Me’ sung by Keala Settle, who plays ‘Lettie Lutz’ (she didn’t win the former but my gosh did she give a brilliant performance!)
I’ve had this album on repeat ever since and won’t shut up about it. I’ve spent all day bombarding my sister, cousin and work colleagues with messages and links. What can I say , I’m persistent.

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Having been perched at the top of the UK charts (why does that phrase sound so retro? very Top of the Pops 1998) for 8 weeks, and No. 1 on iTunes in over 77 countries, it’s safe to say that it’s more-so this soundtrack and the spirit of the cast members (who mostly sang their own parts) that has made this film such a success!

Is it corny that I’m playing it while I type this ? Who cares, the performances are delivered with such passion – you’ll give it one listen and soon be swaying along with me in blissful solidarity!

… Don’t believe me ? See below and eat your words. Thanks.

I wish I could say I wouldn’t watch it again, but the likelihood is this will definitely be joining the Christmas Collection, along with ‘Home Alone’, ‘Sound of Music’, ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘The Holiday’ and no, not Love Actually – I may be British but I actually cannot stand that film.

So there it is ; welcome to the Christmas Club, ‘The Greatest Showman’! Hopefully after a few more times I’ll be able to figure out what exactly happened. Until then someone do me a favour and give the soundtrack a listen just so I at least have one person to sing along with me.

Jazz hands anyone ? …

Angie xo

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