If you are fond of stage musicals and musicals incarnated as theatrical motion pictures, I suspect you might enjoy The Greatest Showman.
If you are not fond of motion pictures politicking left-wing, social justice sanctimoniousness, I suspect you might not enjoy The Greatest Showman.
I fall somewhere in the middle.
My S/O, having heard favorable firsthand word of mouth from people similarly fond of musicals as she, has been clamoring to watch the Hugh Jackman flick for a couple of weeks. I’m not averse to musicals. I’ve seen many, and despite the tiresome faggy, liberal vibe that oozes from such a social arena, I’m able to suspend politics and ideology sufficiently to allow me to enjoy some productions.
Yesterday, I walked into the theater with very neutral expectations of this movie. I was curious how a musical would handle the story of P.T. Barnum, America’s 19th Century precursor to modern reality television and Jerry Springer-induced talk shows.
I was pleasantly surprised by the movie’s opening sequences. The vocal performances were emotional and touching and lent a cohesive dramatization to the life of the the premiere “humbug” of early Americana. The narrative moved right along and the musical segments were interspersed delicately but efficiently with the scenes of spoken drama. I learned a little about Barnum but would hardly call this movie usefully historical. Entertaining, but informative? Not quite.
The music was enjoyable and accessible. In some cases, it was emotional; in the case of “Never Enough” by Jenny Lind, the “Swedish nightingale,” the music was downright cathartic. If ever a single scene warranted sitting through 2 hours of move time, Lind’s performance was that scene. Performed behind actress Rebecca Ferguson’s skillful lip syncing by Loren Allred, the lilting song brings the production to a stunned halt.
Eyes tear, lips agape. This is what music can do for our soul.
Alas, my movie review ends here.
Insert <screeching halt>.
I regret to inform you that The Greatest Showman disappointingly defaults to the standard dramatic structure required of all mainstream Hollywood productions today (that is, if they desire to be favorably “recognized” by critics and pop culture). Barnum’s band of “misfits” is composed of deviant (ie, diverse) characters of all shapes, sizes and colors, but before the viewers know what is happening, we are assaulted by obligatory script-embedded virtue signaling glorifying the diversity of Barnum’s freak show. The rights and equality of the “freaks” takes control of the movie’s dramatic narrative.
So long musical biography, hello Freak Lives Matter.
The movie paints Barnum as a magnanimous social messiah defending the rights of freaks; after all, Barnum’s motivation was only about giving his acts a “voice,” not about money. Right?
And of course, the racial injustice agenda is injected into the movie as well when Barnum’s business partner, Phillip Carlyle (played by Zac Efron) falls for Anne Wheeler, a marginally black member of Barnum’s troupe, against the prototypical close-minded consternation of his 19th century parents.
The deafening virtue signals drown out the music as this movie winds down. What began as a nice cinematic experience, culminating in Lind’s stunning performance, devolves quickly as we are told that a small group of freaks should dictate the collective agenda and sensitivities of the entirety of society. Wink, wink, get it? This is Hollywood’s symbolic method of preaching and setting forth its SJW agenda; implant it as subterfuge into movie scripts and hypnotize the gullible audiences with a DNC-approved message.
Indeed, Lind’s song spells out Hollywood filmmakers’ mission to imbue their product with a left-wing agenda: