The Greatest Showman, a biopic musical of the life of P.T. Barnum, in theory should be a an easily entertaining and fun time at the movies for all ages. The truth is that the film is an hour and forty-five minute snore-fest that lacks all the imagination and wonder that anyone should expect from a P.T. Barnum biopic, and leaves the viewer wondering why they should even care about any of the characters in the story.
The first issue with this film is the fact that you don’t really feel like any of the characters ever struggle with anything, and because of this the characters are never really fully developed. The Greatest Showman opens with P.T. Barnum as a child dreaming of a better life then the one him and his father has. Not long after the film opens Barnum’s father dies randomly and you see him living on the streets, but before you can feel sorry for him at all the film fast forwards to him asking a woman who had been a childhood friend to leave her life of wealth behind and marry him (against her father’s wishes of coarse). They soon have children and have to “struggle” to get by. The place that is employing Barnum ends up going out of business and he is now unemployed. But don’t worry because literally two minutes later he is able to fool the bank into giving him a lone and he is able to open his museum. The viewer never actually gets to see Barnum struggle in the film because as soon as a problem arises a solution presents itself practically gift wrapped. The film spends no time showing how the struggles of his life affect him. These struggles should help develop his character and the truth is that it is truly hard to develop any character when their “struggles” are solved as soon as they are presented to the audience. P.T. Barnum isn’t the only character who lacks development either. Every single character in The Greatest Showman is a cookie cutter copy of whatever they are suppose to be. You can tell that very little to no thought was put into making these characters stand out from every other basic, flat second-rate character in any other movie. Not only are the characters in the film underdeveloped and completely uninteresting, the songs are boring and forgettable. I expected more from the songwriting duo behind La La Land and I was greatly disappointed. What should have been some of the best moments in the film left me fighting to stay awake and checking my phone for the time. I can’t help but wonder how much of the true story of P.T. Barnum had to be cut from the film to make room for lackluster song and dance numbers the cast had to preform.
What Could Have Fixed the Problems:
Instead of trying to make an inaccurate hour and forty-five minute musical about P.T. Barnum, how about making a movie that tells the true story of P.T. Barnum with characters that are so well developed that they feel real (because they were) and that the audience can care about and be interested in. Let us really feel their struggles and see them overcome the obstacles that block them from their goals instead of having the problem get solved immediately after being introduced.
In the end, The Greatest Showman is nothing more than a disappointment disguised as a good time that will leave the viewer wondering why they didn’t go see Star Wars for a second time. The best advice I can give anyone is to not waste their time or money with this film and wait for something truly imaginative to appear on the screen.