FILM REVIEW: The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman (or why you should see Barnum at the Menier instead)


OUT: now

This film is shortlisted for three Golden Globes tonight (7/1) and, of those, its most likely victory is in the Best Song category.

  • Read on for reasons including why you’d be better off seeing the stage version

The soundtrack has been written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who won an Oscar for their work on La La Land and a Tony for Dear Evan Hansen last year.

Here we have a handful of original songs that are so hook-filled that they wouldn’t be out of place on Swedish Eurovision selection spectacular and greatest show on earth Melodifestivalen, which resumes 3/2.

Marvel at empowerment anthem This Is Me (Golden Globe-nominated, alongside the film and Jackman), as well as Never Enough (sung by illegitimate opera star Jenny Lind who finds the rapture with which she is received doesn’t compensate for how outcast she feels).

However, our problem with The Greatest Showman is its one-star script. Is the story of the rise of P.T. Barnum one that is worth retelling now? He essentially invented the circus and was renowned for his use of humbuggery to describe its stars who included a bearded woman and short man.

There’s a scene here when those stars explain that they’d rather be on stage than shunned by their family but Barnum’s exploitation of them really doesn’t seem the most fair way in which to treat them.

This is in part skirted over in the stage production currently running at the Menier Chocolate Factory which we’d recommend ahead of this film not least because of its effective immersive qualities.

We’ve bought the film soundtrack and will continue to enjoy it (alongside Pasel and Paul’s work on La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen) long after the failure of the actual celluloid version is forgotten.

  • Picture by  via Facebook courtesy The Greatest Showman. Tickets
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