Prince Of Humbug

greatest showman.jpg

 

The opening moment of The Greatest Showman is Hugh Jackman, as P.T. Barnum, in silhouette, standing, cane extended, top hat on, ankles crossed, poised to start dancing, and he sings in a husky whisper, “this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.”

I inhaled sharply. I have been waiting for this moment. For a very long time, it feels sometimes. I’m a superhero fan so to complain about Jackman’s career eschewing his song and dance roots so that he could play Wolverine for all those years always felt like choosing between air and water. I wanted, I needed both.

Les Mis came and went mostly unremarked upon. (A shame really, because Jackman is very good as Jean Valjean) and three more rounds as Logan (all quite good) kept him away for five more years. So as The Greatest Showman began it’s run up, I found myself singing “Hello Dolly” in my head everytime I saw something related to it.

I tell you all this so that you understand how much I wanted to love this movie. My heart was open, ready to fill in the space carved out nearly fourteen years ago when I watched the West End version of Oklahoma on PBS the first time. Barnum is a perfect persona for Jackman, all flash and twinkle with a dark side a mile long. Add in Zac Efron (also coming home) and Zendaya and Michelle Williams (who is incredible in this, but who is always incredible) and I was a perfect mark, the kind of sucker Barnum would have dreamed of walking by his museum.

This movie. *sigh*

This movie is fine.

It could have been great, and has flashes of greatness. The performances are strong. The songs are very good. The script is thin but satisfactory.

But the movie lacks style. The whole time I was sitting there thinking, “this movie needs Baz Luhrman and it needs him badly.” Hell, it probably even could have been stepped up with Bill Condon, who co-wrote the screenplay and did truly interesting work with Chicago and Dreamgirls. Instead aesthetically, it feels like Moulin Rouge‘s technicolor dream world of oddballs got lost and popped into Newsies and it never quite gels.

Jackman is phenomenal, and Williams is even better as Charity Barnum, and the movie hinges on them. Efron and Zendaya do well in their roles and their duet “Rewrite The Stars” is probably the best song in the movie, though “This Is Me” a full company song lead by Keala Settle as the Bearded Lady is the best number, and certainly the one with the strongest point of view and “The Other Side” a duet between Jackman and Efron is pure musical theater goodness, complete with soft shoe and Sondheim-esque talk singing.

I’ve very recently decided that while I appreciate the music of Pasek and Paul, I think that their work is not always for me. I loved the movie La La Land, but found the songs underwhelming, I hated the song they wrote for The Flash, I’m not in love with A Christmas Story and while I get the appeal of Dear Evan Hansen, I am no longer sixteen and so the music doesn’t do much for me. (And it winning Best Score over Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812 or War Paint or Come From Away is criminal…) The Greatest Showman is a bit of an outlier there. These songs are very good if terminally poppy and a bit obsessed with dropping the beat.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. The Greatest Showman
  10. Thor: Ragnarok
  11. Justice League
  12. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  13. The Dark Tower
  14. Cars 3
  15. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers

I’ve stopped commenting on trailers mostly because few grab me these days.

Peter Rabbit looks awful. It doesn’t even appear to have anything to do with Peter Rabbit at all. Whattabummer

Paddington 2 I didn’t see the first one, thought I heard it was surprisingly delightful and I’m sure this one will be quite good too, and features Hugh Grant, whom I completely adore.

Love, Simon: GAY YA MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT THIS. Yes, it’s still a white cis upper middle class gay boy, and it’s a coming out story, (booo) but STILL!

Next week is going to be dedicated to wrap ups. Movie Season summaries. (And possibly a rearranging of rankings) a “what I learned in my Disney Year” post, and a plan for moving forward in 2018 (whether I stick to that plan or not WHO KNOWS…but it involves a lot of Marvel)

I’m still going to be going to the movies pretty regularly even though the season is over, and I may review an Oscar bait here and there, we’ll see.

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