The Greatest Showman (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Greatest Showman (2017)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: The Greatest Showman tries hard to dazzle the audience with a Barnum-style sense of wonder -- but at the expense of its complex subject's far more intriguing real-life story.

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Movie Info

Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

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Cast

Hugh Jackman
as P.T. Barnum
Zac Efron
as Phillip Carlyle
Michelle Williams
as Charity Barnum
Rebecca Ferguson
as Jenny Lind
Zendaya
as Anne Wheeler
Paul Sparks
as James Gordon Bennett
Gayle Rankin
as Queen Victoria
Tina Benko
as Mrs. Winthrop
Fredric Lehne
as Mr. Hallett
Keala Settle
as The Bearded Woman
Austyn Johnson
as Caroline Barnum
Sam Humphrey
as Tom Thumb
Cameron Seely
as Helen Barnum
Eric Chase Anderson
as Mr. O'Malley
Ellis Rubin
as Young Barnum
Skylar Dunn
as Young Charity
Daniel Everidge
as Lord of Leeds
Radu Spinghel
as O'Clancy
Will Swenson
as Philo Barnum
Linda Larson
as Mrs. Stratton
Byron Jennings
as Mr. Carlyle
Betsy Aidem
as Mrs. Carlyle
Damian Young
as Mr. Winthrop
Kathryn Meisle
as Mrs. Hallett
Timothy Hughes
as Strong Man
Arnie Burton
as Court Herald
Carly Adams
as Ballerina #1
Sawyer Niehaus
as Ballerina #2
Shuler Hensley
as Lead Protestor
Will Erat
as Policeman
Henry Stram
as Ticket Taker
Michael Barra
as Stage Manager
Shannon Freyer
as Jenny Lind Admirer #1
Kevin Dwane
as Jenny Lind Admirer #2
Sandi DeGeorge
as Jenny Lind Admirer #3
Tony Neil Butler
as Royal Escort
Frances Emily Schramm
as Laundry Woman
Kenneth Chan
as Human Cannonball
Stacey Alyse Cohen
as Theater Goer #1
Tim Wilson
as Theatre Goer #2
Jonathon Culver
as Theater Goer #3
Bob Rumnock
as Bank Manager
Ben Reed
as Mill Worker
Martha Nichols
as Woman in Gold
Jonathan Redavid
as Dancer Oddity #1
Shannon Holtzapffel
as Dancer Oddity #2
Jeremy Craig Hudson
as Dancer Oddity #3
Taylor James
as Dancer Oddity #4
Chelsea Caso
as Dancer Oddity #5
Caoife Coleman
as Dancer Oddity #6
Mishay Petronelli
as Dancer Oddity #7
Khasan Brailsford
as Ensemble Dancer #1
Alex Wong
as Ensemble Dancer #2
Julius Rubio
as Ensemble Dancer #3
Vincent-Oliver Noiseux
as Ensemble Dancer #4
Jessica Castro
as Ensemble Dancer #6
Najla Gilliam
as Ensemble Dancer #7
Christina Glur
as Ensemble Dancer #8
Emerson Tate Alexander
as Pointe Ballerina #1
Victoria Llodra
as Pointe Ballerina #2
Louise Hindsbro
as Pointe Ballerina #3
Laci Justice
as Pointe Ballerina #4
GiaNina Paolantonio
as Pointe Ballerina #5
Rachel Quiner
as Pointe Ballerina #6
Madison Smith
as Pointe Ballerina #7
Brando Speach
as Pointe Ballerina #8
Daniel 'Cloud' Campos
as Dancing Bartender #1
Rod Roberts
as Dancing Bartender #2
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News & Interviews for The Greatest Showman

Critic Reviews for The Greatest Showman

All Critics (208) | Top Critics (39)

The director, Michael Gracey, delivers quick doses of excitement in splashy scenes but has little feel for the choreographic action, offers scant historical substance, and displays slender dramatic insight.

December 26, 2017 | Full Review…

This isn't the story of Barnum's life, but a formulaic rags-to-riches story grafted onto the broad outlines of Barnum's career as a circus entrepreneur.

December 22, 2017 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Historians now agree that Barnum wasn't the one who said "There's a sucker born every minute," but it's hard to escape the feeling that you're being sold a poptimist bill of goods here.

December 22, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

The closest it gets to a hummable toe-tapper is Come Alive, which, at the risk of damning with faint praise, sounds like a Miami Sound Machine D-side.

December 22, 2017 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

The Greatest Showman is a perfunctory effort in story, music, dance, and direction that proffers empty messages about uniqueness, reaching not for the stars but for bland homogeneity.

December 21, 2017 | Full Review…

An old-fashioned musical with a none-more-zeitgeisty songsheet, it may not be a flawless piece of storytelling, but it's a pretty decent show.

December 21, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Greatest Showman

½

I've never been over-the-moon about musicals per-say, but any musical that has catchy songs will always have a special place in my heart. If a movie can make me smile through its music, regardless of the quality of the story at hand, then it's definitely doing something right. The Greatest Showman is one of the most recent musicals to hit the big screen and while I don't consider this one a masterpiece by any means, I can definitely see why so many people have hyped up the soundtrack. This is the pinnacle example of a film that works very well, solely due to the fact that it has fantastic musical numbers throughout its entire duration. If you haven't seen this film yet and you're not a fan of the musical style, then I would warn you to stay away, but if you're the opposite of that, then you may have found a new favorite to sing along to. The Greatest Showman follows P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) as his family suffers from him not being able to hold a job. Promising his wife a magnificent life at a young age, he hasn't given up on that yet. He decides to buy a museum that he would eventually turn into a musical circus, filled with people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and attitudes. This sparks a huge interest in the town and his rise to fame is quite rapid. Yes, I know the story is altered to suit a film because the actual P.T. Barnum wasn't such a nice person, but it works as a movie and that's all that matters when watching. Having said all that, this particular story has been told to death already, so if you're going in for something fresh, I wouldn't bother, unless you're able to ignore that aspect as I surely did. This is a film that you go to for the spectacle of the shows and visual storytelling (albeit brief) because the music is so well-written and catchy you honestly forget about the core story completely. Yes, that's a man to cover up something mediocre, but I would be lying if I didn't call this film remarkable in terms of choreography and music. I've only seen this film once, so I wasn't singing along with any of the music, but when the cues occur, I must admit that I had a few goosebumps appearing. As far as the performances go, everyone here was hired for their stardom. They can both sing and act very well. From Hugh Jackman to Michelle Williams, to the very likable chemistry between Zac Efron and Zendaya, I was grinning from ear to ear whenever any of them were singing on-screen together. Even though the story is basic, it put a huge smile on my face through the ways it let the music tell the story. Even though mediocre at its core, I had an absolute blast watching The Greatest Showman. In the end, this movie won't be remembered as one of the greatest musicals of all time, or even the last ten years, but this is a soundtrack that music lovers will be playing for many years to come, and that alone is a tough feat to accomplish. No, I didn't care all that much about the outcome of the story, but the music itself made me care enough to put a smile on my face, and there is a lot of music, so I was distracted into liking this movie enough to warrant a decent recommendation. Please take this recommendation with a massive grain of salt, though, because if you're not into musicals, this movie will probably have the exact opposite effect for you.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

I was as shocked as everyone else when the slow to catch on, critically excoriated THE GREATEST SHOWMAN turned into a bonafide blockbuster. But then again, big, empty musicals sometimes do well. MAMMA MIA and FLASHDANCE come to mind. Pure escapism often gets people through troubling times, be it the Great Depression, the Reagan years, or the current shit show on display. What's better than a fantasy circus to "trump" the real sideshow on the news every minute of the day? Screenwriters Bill Condon and Jenny Bicks have teamed up with LA LA LAND/DEAR EVAN HANSEN songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and first time director Michael Gracey to bring us a truly terrible film in so many ways, yet achieves greatness as well. Is it possible to love and loathe a film simultaneously? If we're to fall for this movie's themes, then, like its characters, we will sing/shout from the rooftops, "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, DAMMIT!" Let me be clear. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN finds its inspiration from the life of circus impresario, P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), but anyone expecting a biopic needs to check their egos at the tent flap. Sketching in his life with the merest hint of an outline, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN celebrates filmmaking kinetics, soaring inspirational anthems, and rhythmic editing...leaving depth, rigor, and layering to the Sondheims, Kanders and Ebbs of the world. Every scene with dialogue feels like the slightest excuse to set up the next singing/dancing showstopper. In fact, I'm convinced Sally Hawkins had more spoken lines in THE SHAPE OF WATER than that of the entire cast of this turkey/masterpiece. Think of this as 20 great Michael Jackson videos strung together or as my friend Dennis said after a screening, "This movie plays like it's a trailer of itself". Yes, it feels like one big montage with style certainly lording over substance, but what style it displays. There's so much epic sweep to every moment, such aggressive choreography, such pageantry and a self-serious call to arms for the "freaks" and the outcasts of the world, that I had to stop myself and ask, "Do I hear the people sing or not?" [LES MIZ fans get an extra point here]. The answer? YES! I HEAR YOU! Jackman and company start things off with a bang with "The Greatest Show", an on-the-nose introductory song if there ever was one, rivaling Styx's "Grand Illusion" or Robbie Williams' "Let Me Entertain You" as Overbearing Kings of Captain Obvious Openers. Then things turn really creepy as "A Million Dreams" flashes back to Barnum's childhood when he meets and falls for young Charity, who will grow into his future wife, played by Michelle Williams. It's a pretty song, but I get creeped out whenever children sing. It wasn't a good look in BUGSY MALONE, and ANNIE felt like a bunch of kids pretending to be scrappy while tap dancing on a rolled out board for an audition. Only little Gavroche in LES MISERABLES worked for me, mainly because he was starving and willing to cut a bitch for his place in revolutionary history. Luckily, the filmmakers have ADD and don't dwell on anything for too long. We move along hastily to finish the number with Jackman and Williams taking over for the kids. I would have preferred they simply cover Jackman in shadows instead of CGI-ing the hell out of his face to look like a man in his 20s, but ain't nothing gonna stop modern movie magic! Flipping through this section, we see Barnum working out his early ideas for what would become his circus. He gathers the troops, or troupe that is, assembling society's throwaways into his iconic Freak Show. Behold the Bearded Lady (scene stealer Keala Settle), the Fat Man, the Tattooed Man, and more. He also finds a business partner in Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), who falls for the acrobat Anne (Zendaya), a woman who feels at home with this group because of the racism she faces outside of their circle. At one point, to boost his business, Barnum teams up with Swedish opera star Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) to go no tour with her, leaving the circus to Carlyle. Ferguson's big number, "Never Enough" proves mesmerizing, despite the fact that former VOICE contestant Loren Allred does the singing. Allred may be the Marni Nixon of today, but Ferguson does such a gorgeous lip sync, entirely invested in this song and the implications of its lyrics, that I didn't care. Of course, Barnum and Lind's relationship will complicate things, but trust me, another musical number's right around the corner to wash away those blahs. THE showstopper of the film, "Rewrite The Stars" puts Efron and Zendaya front and center, and like all of the music here, it's contemporary, anthemic bombast, auto-tuned within an inch of its life, but an unforgettable explosion of pop to hit that sweet spot over and over. I could watch this pair soar and twirl on an endless loop and be happy. Efron croons winningly, but Zendaya comes out the real winner here. A triple threat, she moves wonderfully, sings like an angel (ok, ok, with a lot of studio assistance), but it's her acting which won me over. As she did in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, she exhibits a beautiful raw fragility, especially when out of makeup. If ever there was a ONE TO WATCH, it's her. Of course the freaks get their rallying cry in "This Is Me" (Oscar nominated), and it's a killer number reminiscent of the "I Got Life" number in HAIR or "La Vie Boheme" from RENT, where the disenfranchised finally have their say. Sure, it's a tad humorless, but I fully expect this song to be sung from floats at LGBT Pride Parades, replacing "I Am What I Am" for at least the next 3 decades. In fact, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN may be the gayest movie ever made without having a shred of gay content. Any film that makes a case for the glory of being different, despite the terrible conditions and abuse the real Barnum put his employees through, deserves a salute. Even Michelle Williams, who gamely surrenders to this wafer-thin film, sells it in her big number, "Tightrope". The fact that this actor can twirl and float about like everyone else, when she's built a career around heavy, crying characters, speaks volumes as to the magical qualities in this movie. Between her, Zendaya, and Ferguson, I was reminded of ABBA. They all have sweet, Agnetha/Frida-style voices and every song has a Swedish pop sheen to it. The circus setting harkens back to that group's SUPER TROUPER days and is a better, more appropriate backdrop for this style of musical than MAMMA MIA's dumb Greek setting. When I hear those Euro-style chords, I think of pageantry and committed dancing, not people shuffling badly on an overly-lit dock. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is more ABBA than ABBA! Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I put on the "Downtown" number from LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, one of the best-realized numbers in musical history, and I feel better. I don't watch the whole film, just the great numbers. I suspect I'll do the same when THE GREATEST SHOWMAN starts streaming. Yes, it's a hot, steaming poo-pile of a movie, but it's catchy, has a good beat, and you can dance to it! In front of us in the theater sat two elderly women. Throughout the film, they threw their hands up in the air or swayed to the music, pumping their arms back and forth. It brought them so much joy, I tapped them at the end to tell them their love of the film made my evening. Is it so bad it's good, or is it so bad AND so good? I'll go with the latter. Didn't a lot of people say the same thing about XANADU?

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

½

Glossing over all the controversies surrounding the real P. T. Barnum, this is an overly sanitized musical with no ambition and made for easy consumption. Full review on filmotrope. com

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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