Review Roundup - Critics Weigh In On THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
Starring Academy Award nominees Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams with Zac Efron, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN opens in U.S. theaters today. The film is directed by exciting new filmmaker, Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ("La La Land") and starring Academy Award nominee Hugh Jackman. Jackman is joined by Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Zac Efron and Rebecca Ferguson.
"The Greatest Showman" is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, the film tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
Let's see what the critics have to say:
Jason Zinoman, The New York Times: "The Greatest Showman", a montage sequence that occasionally turns into a movie musical, steers clear of any contemporary resonance and ignores meaty themes. The first-time director Michael Gracey achieves an aggressively synthetic style through kinetic editing and tidy underdog stories, but none of the true joy of pulling a fast one. It's a standard-issue holiday biopic.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: How piously anachronistic is that? Very. Yet "The Greatest Showman" wants to give you a splashy good time, and does, and it's got something that takes you by surprise: a genuine romantic spirit. The numbers are shot like electromagnetic dance-pop music videos, and to say that they sizzle with energy wouldn't do them justice - they're like a hypodermic shot of joy to the heart.
Brian Lowry, CNN: "The Greatest Showman" isn't the greatest show on Earth, but it's a pretty good one, and as an original musical for kids weaned on animation, one of those rare live-action commodities that really does invite family viewing. It's not "La La Land," despite a shared pedigree, but the movie's buoyancy does offer similar moments of gravity-defying escapism.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Director Gracey, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, production designer Nathan Crowley and costumer Ellen Mirojnick douse everything in such a sparkly modern gloss that the historical locations might as well be studio sets and the story of an American showbiz pioneer becomes just another razzle-dazzle cliché. This is a movie that works way too hard at its magic, continually prompting us with insistent music cues to feel excitement that just isn't there. If P.T. Barnum had delivered entertainment this flat to his public, the name would have long been forgotten.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair: If you start your big musical movie with a song called "The Greatest Show," you're setting up some pretty big expectations. One could almost call it hubris, though that word suggests a kind of aggro arrogance. The Greatest Showman-the new movie musical which houses "The Greatest Show"-is slightly more humble than that. The film may be a vessel for some noxious, platitudinous cynicism, but there's nevertheless something still quaint about it. It mostly just wants you to have a nice time, it insists; to feel cheered and uplifted as a big, lumbering elephant carries us off a cliff.
Matt Tamanini, BroadwayWorld: The resulting product has a distinctly theatrical flair, from its musical framing to its production number presentation, but somewhat surprisingly, the stars of the film turn out not to be the Broadway megastar or creatives above the title, but instead the supporting and ensemble cast members who carry the film's truly power and timely message.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: Rebecca Ferguson and Keala Settle, playing songbirds of distinctly different class strata and mustache capacity, make the most of their supporting roles; in two of the movie's best scenes, each explores the psychic pain of a lifetime spent feeling like the Other in almost every room they enter. But The Greatest Showman hasn't come to linger on that kind of self-reflection; it's too busy delivering great spectacle, and a lot of swirly, shiny humbug
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: It's a movie which in some ways resembles Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge from 2001: a celebratory and euphoric entertainment which is not overly concerned with dramatic or psychological consistency. It is all about the mood, the feel, the general sugar rush of euphoria. I can imagine the same treatment being given to the early career of the great theatrical magician Orson Welles.
Brian Truitt, USA TODAY: Michael Gracey's directorial debut (*½ out of four; rated PG; in theaters Wednesday) is a disappointing circus of thinly developed characters, overly earnest melodrama and song-and-dance sequences that are more like unrelated music videos sewn together for a threadbare narrative. Hugh Jackman's the ringmaster of this disjointed affair, though it's not entirely his fault Barnum's the least interesting part of his own movie.
Joshua Starnes, ComingSoon.net: Not every song works, the plot is boiler plate and predictable, and momentum fades as it goes on, but even when its frayed edges are showing, The Greatest Showman exhibits a sheer joie de vivre so encompassing it's impossible to resist.
Mara Reinstein, US Magazine: No, you're not going to glean crucial info about the legendary Barnum - but you will come away with respect for the man who portrays him. Nine months after donning Wolverine's CLAWS for the final time, Jackman proves yet again he's equally comfortable as the song and dance leading man. The congenial, ever-appealing actor is the ultimate grand master of ceremonies, and there's no tomfoolery about it.