Music in ‘The Greatest Showman’ distracting from story

December 29, 2017 GMT

As I have probably stated before, it is a little weird that someone with my tin ear, should count as some of his favorite movies being musicals (“Guys 6c Dolls” being one that comes to mind).

Director Michael Gracey’s “The Greatest Showman” is not one of them.

It’s not that the songs are bad, I think they are pretty darn good, actually. It’s just that they get in the way for the storyline, instead of enhancing it.

The rookie visual effects guy-turned-director should stick to what he does best. But, I guess even the best directors had to crawl before they could walk.

This movie does a very good job of entertaining the audience with a nice story (based on fact), great acting and a very lively script.

Hugh Jackman (“Wolverine,” “Real Steel,” “The Australians”) stars as P.T. Barnum, the legendary con man/entrepreneur who shucks and jives his way into becoming history’s most well-known promoter.

The ever so charming Jackman, makes the perfect incarnation of the charming Barnum, backed up by incredible co-stars inserted in just the right spot.

Always ready to watch Michelle Williams (“Dawson’s Creek,” “Marilyn,” “Blue Valentine”) I was delighted to see her appear as Charity Barnum, and her solid character brought stur-diness to the plot of a fly-by-night dreamer who would always remain untamed.

Even Zack Efron (“17 Again,” “Neighbors,” “Bay-watch”), as Phillip Carlyle, was just the right guy, at just the right time.

I have never realized that he could fit into a movie so well, as opposed to being a sideshow act as he is in most of his movies.

Second-tier players of note include Zendaya (“K.C. Undercover,” “Shake It Up,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming”) as Anne Wheeler and Rebecca Ferguson (“The Girl on the Train,” “Life,” “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”) as Jenny Lynd, both beautiful love interests who enhance the plot more than just visually.

“The Greatest Showman” would have worked very well as a non-musical and would have been more able to explore the main subject’s life, had the numbers been removed, but all-in-all, still not a bad movie.

It portrays the life of Barnum pretty close to the Irving Wallace biography that I read as a teen. And that is fairly high praise, as Wallace’s book was a favorite.

“The Greatest Showman” may not be a GREAT show, but it is well worth seeing.

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.