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‘The Greatest Showman’ is so entertaining you’ll forgive its non-existent plot

The musical could actually have benefited from being plenty longer
Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman
[Image: 20th Century Fox]

The Greatest Showman’

Director: Michael Gracey

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron

Rating: PG

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3.5 (Out Of 5) Globes

Plot: The ambitious and charismatic P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackson) decides to spend all of his family’s savings on a burgeoning new form of entertainment, and in the process creates both the circus and show business. But along the way Barnum’s efforts strain his relationship with his wife Charity (Michelle Williams), especially as his antics alongside Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), and W.D. Wheeler (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) become more and more impressive.

Review: Following on from the success of "La La Land," "Frozen," and the popularity of both "Hamilton" and "Dear Evan Hansen," a big-budgeted musical was always going to be greenlit by a major Hollywood studio. In that regard, "The Greatest Showman" delivers, as there's an abundance of splendor and spectacle that makes it a captivating, spirited, genuinely uplifting and always gorgeous watch.

Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya ooze a passion, fun, and charisma that suggests they know how rare it is to make such a film, Sam Humphrey and Keala Settle standout in supporting roles, injecting integrity and heart to proceedings, while director Michael Gracey always enhances and elevates the musical sequences to a rousing extent.

It also helps that the compositions and songs from John Debney, Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, and Joseph Trapanese never feel gratuitous, and are rooted in the characters and actors that perform them.

It's just a shame then that "The Greatest Showman’s" major issue is that its plot falls completely flat. While the overall story, and its sub-plots, are intriguing, it never delves into them in enough detail to strike a chord, and by the end of its hour and 45 minute running time you’ll be left wanting much, much more.  

Ultimately, that means "The Greatest Showman" feels more like an amalgamation of undeniably catchy music videos than a coherent film. Thankfully, though, it still provides more than enough moments of pomp, joy, and poignancy to stop you from judging those shortcomings too harshly.