TIME TO CRUSH SOME HOPES AND DREAMS WITH MY UNPOPULAR OPINION ON A MOVIE EVERYONE SEEMS TO LOVE! (Woop Woop)
“Awww Elise!” You say, “What popular movie could you possibly not enjoy?” Well my wonderful reading raccoon, I have a bone to pick with… The Greatest Showman
Now, to start with a fun disclaimer— is this movie the worst thing I’ve ever seen? Definitely not. Do I hate The Greatest Showman? Nah. Is it even that bad of a movie? Honestly, not really. It’s just a painfully mediocre movie that could’ve been SO much more. And sometimes, that mediocrity is worse than any bad movie, because you are haunted by the idea of what that movie could’ve been.
(Woooo there Elise, getting a little too deep for your trashy little book blog. Better make a joke about bats so no one thinks you’ve been kidnapped and replaced by a robot… QUICK LOOK AT THIS CUTE BAT!)
SO! What are my issues with the film, well I thought I’d start with some of the things I enjoyed before I just start spewing negativity all over this post. My favorite part of the movie was by far all of the choreography. While many of the songs themselves weren’t my favorite (more on that later) I was certainly never bored with the film and there was always something interesting happening on screen to keep my attention. I realize that’s kinda weak praise (the least a movie can do is keep me from being bored) but the musical numbers were very well staged and eye-catching.
POSITIVITY OVER NOW TIME TO GET TO THE MESS 😊 My biggest problem with The Greatest Showman, is its lack of ambition. “But Elise! Didn’t you just praise how amazing and grand the choreography was?!” Yeah, but aesthetic ambition and ambition in storytelling are two completely different things. The Greatest Showman is based on PT Barnum, a guy I don’t know too much about, but from what I do know, there is a MUCH more interesting story about his life that this movie is not telling. (If I give The Greatest Showman credit for anything other than its choreography, it’s the fact that the movie made me curious to find a novel about PT Barnum and read that). I just get this feeling with The Greatest Showman that it was trying SO HARD to be family friendly, that it was too scared to really touch on any parts of Barnum’s life that could even be the least bit controversial. This choice just BAFFLES me because, even as someone who knows very little about him, I know that he kinda exploited people and mistreated animals in his circus. From my understanding, he isn’t really the best dude and not really someone I’d want to be looking up to because of some fake inspirational movie.
This is where we get into how Thee Greatest Showman could’ve been SO MUCH MORE. Had the movie actually gone into these controversial ideas of exploitation, it could’ve had something too it. For anyone who has seen the film, tell me who the antagonist is? There isn’t really one. Yeah you have some small things (protesters that really could’ve been interesting had they been in more of the movie, that critic dude that I forget is even in the film, that opera singer who was just a mess and also forgettable…) but none of these really affect the plot in any meaningful way. Without a serious force working against the main character, I am given no reason to care about anything happening or any goals the characters are reaching towards.
Back to some positivity for a bit, Zac Efron and Zendaya were great! They duet (“Rewrite the Stars”) was one of my favorite parts of the film and I was impressed with all of the trapeze work. With that said, I wish they would’ve made things a bit more explicit about why there was tension in their relationship. I get it, looking at the time period people weren’t all that accepting of interracial couples, but the movie almost plays it off as if it was the fact that Zendaya was in the circus that people don’t like. I can’t give a specific thing I would change to make this plot point more explicit without seeming in your face, but I just think it could’ve been better handled.
Finally, an issue that hurts my musical loving heart, all of the songs sound the same. All of the songs are the happy, cheery, upbeat, uplifting song. If you started playing the soundtrack for me, I might be able to name two songs in the entire soundtrack— it just isn’t memorable. On that note, I feel the need to mention how somehow all of these songs were written for this film, but it has the feel of a jukebox musical. The songs feel so unrelated to what is happening in the story that it feels like they could be played for someone who has never seen the film and they would get the same thing out of it.
Well, there are just some of my thoughts on why I’m not the biggest fan of The Greatest Showman (hope I didn’t make too many people upset…). If you want to know more, start a conversation in the comments! Do you love The Greatest Showman? Tell me why! I want to understand 😊