Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Keala Settle, Rebecca Ferguson
Directed By: Michael Gracey
Plot: PT Barnum (Jackman) always had big dreams and big ideas. It’s how he convinced his wife (Williams) to marry him even though he had nothing. Then he has an idea for the greatest show on earth.
What Works: I liked some of the songs. This Is Me was a song I fell in love with before the film even came out because Keala Settle is such a BEAST. Her vocals are amazing, and I hope this song gets an Oscar nom just so she can stand on that big stage and sing it for everyone. In fact, she’s the best thing about the movie. If she had one more scene, she’d have an Oscar nomination. She’s the one character you get even somewhat emotionally invested in.
What Doesn’t Work: This film is all flash and no meat. This is Jackman playing Jackman. efron playing Efron. No range here. No meat in their roles. No scenes of desperation. It’s a giant disappointing fluff piece. Some of the songs are reprised too much for their own good. Some of the songs aren’t very good and sound like other songs Pasek and Paul have written in the past. One song in particular sounded like a rejected track from Dear Evan Hansen. Another sounded like a Gloria Estefan B-side. The music never seemed to mesh, and was constantly overproduced. Which brings me to my biggest problem… Rebecca Ferguson. Why bother assembling a cast of people who can sing, if you’re just going to dub Ferguson? Just cast someone else. Keala proves you don’t need to be a big name if you can sing your face off. Ferguson isn’t even a big name, or on the posters. It’s baffling that she was in this movie. On top of that, her character is an opera singer, and the song they wrote for her couldn’t be further from that genre. Fuck that whole scene. Someone should have known better. And I noticed a lot of the choreo was just recycled and repeated. Lazy.
Final Word: Glossy fluff. Some songs are good. Some songs are well sung if you can get past the production. Keala Settle deserves to break out, and I hope this film helps her do that. She’s the lone bright spot in a film that is just sloppily mediocre.
Final Grade: C+