Coming off of LA LA LAND, the original-music film musical was back. Enlisting the main songwriters of that film, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, seemed to be a main priority in getting this movie off the ground. Their lyrics really pop off the screen, even though it gets to be on the nose and cheesy. The music itself isn’t of the setting’s time, rather an uber-produced monstrosity of modern music that somehow gets more endearing after the first few bars of each song. That growing love for the songs is mainly due to the actors’ performances and production design, but the rest of the movie is content with not taking chances, in contrast to its main character.

There’s not much of substance in the story, as everything just seems to work out nicely or very timely for everyone. The stakes are existent, but extremely manufactured, not inherent. We don’t really get to dig into the darkness of this venture; the movie doesn’t have anything to say about how Barnum really cheated and treated these people badly. It’s a result of the movie’s PG rating, and SHOWMAN isn’t really concerned with that, rather it’s only focused on its message of being unique.

I fell in love with the way the movie is told, not necessarily the story itself. The actors are giving 110% and know what kind of movie they’re in, and everything falls into place, in that regard. Hugh Jackman continues to impress, Zac Efron keeps on growing as an actor, Keala Settle (The Bearded Lady) steals the show, and Zandaya is going to be a huge star one day.

Major props to the blocking and choreography of most of the songs. The Jackman/Efron recruitment song at the bar is one of the best scenes of the year, and the camera doesn’t cut away much, letting the actors and choreography play so joyfully. Other times though, we get an opera song that’s extremely static, but Rebecca Ferguson swings for the fences and misses. The whole movie is extremely over-the-Big-Top, but it works so well because of its actors’ charm and earnestness.


(Refer to my rating system HERE!)