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Quill

I’m astonished but I did not love The Greatest Showman

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It takes me forever to get around to watching a movie and I have been planning to watch this one since it was in theatres. I know I love the song A Million Dreams, which we have sung in homeschool chorus, and I ADORE Hugh Jackman; I don’t have many celebrity crushes, but Jackman gets that distinction. 

So imagine my disappointment at having watched it last night and found it very meh. There were so many details about which I wanted more information; i.e., how did he survive childhood after his father died? Presumably he learned the tailoring trade, and I assume this was also why he knew costuming, but this was never demonstrated. How did he pay his “unique people” at first? I wanted the sub-plot of Carlisle being in love with the trapeze artist more fleshed-out - was the black man her brother? Because I first thought husband. We only got one measley little conflict with him against his haughty parents, defending his love with a non-white person of low status. Barnum’s kids are like cardboard cut-outs. Are they, like, 7 and 5 for ten years? How did exotic animals become part of the show and where did he acquire them? I also feel as though it was quite glossed-over that “unique people” were detested by society; I wonder if any of those exploited people truly did feel gratitude towards Barnum (in real life) and I wonder how they felt about each other - did they truly band together like a family? 

Soooo many questions...

 

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I was also disappointed.  More so when I read about it and learned it had very little to do with the real Barnum.  

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I did enjoy it but I think I went into knowing it was just a glossed over fun little ride.

I think it is popular for different reasons. One big one I think is that it was a rare movie that could be enjoyed by various ages. Yes, there is the sexy trapeze scene and drinking but it was one of the tamest popular movies that has come along. It’s hard to find movies that are not cartoons to watch with preteens and this was a good one. And it is just different. So much of media is a the same old thing over and over this is just different.

It is just fun and silly and the music is catchy. It wouldn’t have been so fun if it dove into all those heavy topics! 

But I didn’t love it or anything. I’ve only seen it once but I would watch it again with my dd if she requested it. It’s a good girls night movie. My dh and my boys would have to not be home. They couldn’t sit through it I’m sure.

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I didn't love the movie either, but I do enjoy the soundtrack.  I've listened to it multiple times.

My son had read a book about Barnum and mentioned during the movie that it wasn't accurate.  Nevertheless, he enjoyed it.  

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8 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

I did enjoy it but I think I went into knowing it was just a glossed over fun little ride.

I think it is popular for different reasons. One big one I think is that it was a rare movie that could be enjoyed by various ages. Yes, there is the sexy trapeze scene and drinking but it was one of the tamest popular movies that has come along. It’s hard to find movies that are not cartoons to watch with preteens and this was a good one. And it is just different. So much of media is a the same old thing over and over this is just different.

It is just fun and silly and the music is catchy. It wouldn’t have been so fun if it dove into all those heavy topics! 

But I didn’t love it or anything. I’ve only seen it once but I would watch it again with my dd if she requested it. It’s a good girls night movie. My dh and my boys would have to not be home. They couldn’t sit through it I’m sure.

I did appreciate that, though it is moot for me now. It was very clean. 

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I didn't don't love it.  I am with you.  It was OK but certainly didn't rank on my radar as a must watch again movie.

That said, I loved it for my students.  I sub as a teacher with students with severe multiple impairments....think wheelchairs, non verbal, cognitive skills of infant, etc.   We took them last year and it was a hit.  There was a lot for them to see visually.  The music was great, esp for those with visual impairments.  It was age appropriate for young adults (students were 16-26 years old) and it was clean so school appropriate.

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I didn't love it either. And I thought the opera singer belting out a show tune was weird.

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

I wanted the sub-plot of Carlisle being in love with the trapeze artist more fleshed-out

Since both of those characters were 100% made up for the movie, there was nothing there to flesh out. We enjoyed it even with all of the inaccuracies. It was one of the "based on" movies and not a documentary.

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I didn't love it either, and in fact, I turned it off before it was over.  It just didn't pull me in at all.  I do really like High Jackman though!

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I watched it recently too and was unimpressed. I was surprised given all the hype. I had recently watched the movie version of Les Mis which I love. I’m a huge Hugh Jackman fan. 

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I agree with you. I watched some documentaries on youtube with my kids after watching it and discussed the discrepancies. The exploitation of those people was much worse than the movie portrayed. 

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I didn’t like it, either. I couldn’t get more than halfway through it before quitting.

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1 hour ago, ashfern said:

Since both of those characters were 100% made up for the movie, there was nothing there to flesh out. We enjoyed it even with all of the inaccuracies. It was one of the "based on" movies and not a documentary.

Well, fictionalized characters can still be fleshed out. *shrug* There are no such people as Severus Snape and Lily Evans either, but that subplot was well fleshed-out. 

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Barnum was a horrible human being. He took sensitive, intelligent animals away from their homes and families, enslaved them, and tortured them. The tradition was continued for almost 150 years not only by Barnum & Bailey but by all the other circuses that copied it. Boo. I have no desire to see the movie. [Steps off soapbox.]

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Yeah, I really didn't like it either.

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I didn't really like it either.  I actually bought the DVD because I had heard so many good things about it that I was sure that it would be something that we would watch again and again.  No one in my family was really that excited about it and I doubt that we will ever watch it again.  I didn't even love the music that much and I love musicals/Broadway/showtunes, etc.

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It had catchy music, but I could take it or leave it. I'm not a big one for re-watching anyway. That being said, my 12 and 13 year old dds loved it. The movie was their request for the Easter basket (Santa brings a book; Easter bunny brings a movie in our household). 

I have a book on Charles Stratton (Tom Thumb) on my to be read pile, but I haven't gotten to it. It'll be interesting to see how it differs. 

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I saw it at the theater. I loved it.  We bought it on DVD and I feel like so much was lost from the big screen??

I knew ahead of time that it was not a true story.  Only loosely based on real events/real people.  

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I saw it in the theater and then again when we rented it at home.

Hugh Jackman is one of my very favorite actors, and I was so looking forward to it, from the previews. But when I saw it for the first time, I actually felt uncomfortable, because there are so many holes in the plot and characterization. I especially found the suggestion of romance between Barnum and Jenny Lind to be unbelievable and uncomfortable to watch. I disliked almost everything about  his family life in the movie, including that the kids didn't age. But my kids loved it. When we watched it again at home, I enjoyed it more, because I had low expectations.

For me, it succeeds as a spectacle of grand proportions, with great music and fun dance numbers. It fails on the story line, character development, and biographical portrayal of Barnum.

Overall, I dislike it for all of the reasons in the OP. I think I would be able to watch it again and find the musical numbers enjoyable.

It is style over substance. I think what bothers me most about that is that I expected more from Jackman as an artist. He seems like he usually chooses roles for their substance.

Edited by Storygirl
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Eh. If you pick at the details, it all falls apart. Otherwise, it's a fun ride. The costumes, the music, the dancing...

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I haven't seen it and am not sure I want to. I adore Hugh Jackman but I read a number of reviews that said it whitewashed the cruelty of PT Barnum. Not sure I want to watch a musical that does that.

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No, I definitely thought it was only kinda mediocre.  I liked the music, but the plot was schmaltzy; it wasn't historically accurate, and the acting wasn't great.  

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I was surprised to find I did not like the music, except for A Million Dreams, which I knew I liked going in. I liked the Never Enough song itself, but, as someone said upthread, it was weird coming from an opera singer’s role. I didn’t care for any other song. 

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I loved the movie, but only because I wasn't looking for anything real or deep.  The movie is meant to be pure entertainment, flashy and energizing, and it delivers. I love the music, and the dancing, and the idea of the downtrodden coming into the light and finding their voice and making a mark.  I liked that there was a happy ending.  Did it really happen like that in real life?  Absolutely not.  But the movie gives me the feeling that great things could happen, to somebody, maybe even to me or my children. 

It would have been much better if they had left the name of Barnum out of it, and just made a story about a random fictional showman with a circus.  It would have been better if they hadn't called Jenny Lind an "opera" singer, and had just called her a singer, for goodness' sake.

I really loved the real life rehearsal and concept videos that came out around the making of the film.  Those, to me, were the real story.  I am moved every time I watch the shy studio singer (Keala Settle), as she starts to sing "This Is Me" from behind her music stand, then gets brave to come out as the music builds, and then truly sings from the depths of her being as all the other singers encourage her to just go for it.  I can't describe it in words, but it's breathtaking to watch, inspiring, even spiritual, to me anyways.

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

 It would have been better if they hadn't called Jenny Lind an "opera" singer, and had just called her a singer, for goodness' sake.

 

 

But she really was an opera singer, so that would be strange if they had not called her that, I think people would have noticed that even more. 

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28 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

But she really was an opera singer, so that would be strange if they had not called her that, I think people would have noticed that even more. 

 

Really?  How many people know the story of PT Barnum to the level that they know Jenny Lind was a real opera singer.  I don't think it would have been incorrect to call an opera singer a singer.  All opera singers are singers. They could have made the story about fictional characters instead of making a fictional story about real people.  Give her a different name, and call her a singer.  Or, if they're going to call her an opera singer, give her an aria to sing.  

But of course, Mr. Jackman and his team must have had reasons to make the choices they did, and they didn't ask my opinion, so I'll just enjoy the show!  :smile:

 

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1 hour ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

 

Really?  How many people know the story of PT Barnum to the level that they know Jenny Lind was a real opera singer.  I don't think it would have been incorrect to call an opera singer a singer.  All opera singers are singers. They could have made the story about fictional characters instead of making a fictional story about real people.  Give her a different name, and call her a singer.  Or, if they're going to call her an opera singer, give her an aria to sing.  

 

I'm pretty sure she would be insulted by the bolded, lol. He talked her into coming to America for what turned out to be a wildly successful concert tour, yes, but she was an international star way before that. idk how the movie represents it, but that's why he wanted to bring her here, because she was already a renowned performer who reliably sold out venues but didn't perform in America. 

Having her belt out a show tune is actually not as weird as it sounds. At the time of this tour, she would have been retired from opera and singing a variety of songs, including the pop music of the day.  So that bit is actually fairly realistic. No one expected endless arias because it was billed as a popular tour, and because Americans didn't know from arias anyway. I mean, the Met didn't even open till 1883  or so, there was no vast field of authentic opera fans, lol. 

As far as discrepancies and digging deep . . . it was clearly marketed as a fun, feel-good movie with great songs. If it went very far into exploitation, prejudice, and animal rights, it would be a completely different type of movie. 

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NO:  The Help. 12 Years a Slave. The King's Speech. The Greatest Showman.

YES:  The Pirates of Penzance.  Meet Me in St. Louis.  My Fair Lady.  Singing in the Rain.  The Greatest Showman.

It's a cheesy musical.  If you go in thinking you're seeing an autobiography or a drama, then you're going to be very disappointed.  This is a Judy Garland/Micky Roony thing:   They sing, they dance!  There are plot holes!  But the costumes and sets are pretty, so who cares!

Not a single thing is supposed to be serious or very meaningful other than the basic theme of the movie:  be nice to marginalized people.  

Like, I went to the latest Marvel movie and I expected that it would be a fun ride with a bunch of action scenes and it was.  However, the movie felt only so-so to me.  Most people raved about it and just looooved it.  But for me, at this stage in my life, I prefer a drama that's real and deals with the sorts of troubles that we all face as humans.  I can recognize, though, that if you're into action movies that the Marvel movie was a lot of fun.  But...I'm not into action movies the way I used to be, so it was just meh to me.

So, I can understand why you didn't like The Greatest Showman, but I do wish you'd known going into it that it is on the same level as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  I think if you'd had your "musical" hat on you would have enjoyed it a lot more and would have been more blase about the plot holes and wouldn't have let them catch your attention and ruin the movie for you.

7 hours ago, rjand6more said:

I saw it at the theater. I loved it.  We bought it on DVD and I feel like so much was lost from the big screen??

I knew ahead of time that it was not a true story.  Only loosely based on real events/real people.  

 

And I also agree with the above. This movie screamed for a big screen.  Seeing it on DVD can't have possibly been the same as seeing it on the big screen.  It needed a big screen and a professional sound system.  The scenes were so pretty on a big screen that I don't think came across the same way on the small.

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I would have liked it better had I known going into it that they strayed so far from reality in the movie. I thought it was going to be more non-fiction than Broadway musical. 

Afterwards I was googling what was based on real-life and what wasn't. It bothered me a lot the way they portrayed Barnum's relationship with Jenny Lind. Apparently that almost-affair never happened, so why make it up? That bothered me the most.

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4 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

I loved the movie, but only because I wasn't looking for anything real or deep.  The movie is meant to be pure entertainment, flashy and energizing, and it delivers. I love the music, and the dancing, and the idea of the downtrodden coming into the light and finding their voice and making a mark.  I liked that there was a happy ending.  Did it really happen like that in real life?  Absolutely not.  But the movie gives me the feeling that great things could happen, to somebody, maybe even to me or my children. 

It would have been much better if they had left the name of Barnum out of it, and just made a story about a random fictional showman with a circus.  It would have been better if they hadn't called Jenny Lind an "opera" singer, and had just called her a singer, for goodness' sake.

I really loved the real life rehearsal and concept videos that came out around the making of the film.  Those, to me, were the real story.  I am moved every time I watch the shy studio singer (Keala Settle), as she starts to sing "This Is Me" from behind her music stand, then get brave to come out as the music builds, and then truly sing from the depths of her being as all the other singers encourage her to just go for it.  I can't describe it in words, but it's breathtaking to watch, inspiring, even spiritual, to me anyways.

 

 

 

Yes!  I enjoyed this much more than the movie!

 

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And I also agree with the above. This movie screamed for a big screen.  Seeing it on DVD can't have possibly been the same as seeing it on the big screen.  It needed a big screen and a professional sound system.  The scenes were so pretty on a big screen that I don't think came across the same way on the small.

That may have had a role. 

Maybe I’m just grouchy, but I didn’t even think it was so entertaining. I mean, I have totally enjoyed fluffy movies full of plot holes before. I loved the movie Enchanted, which was soooooo silly; I re-watched it multiple times and it earned a spot in the car DVD wallet to watch on long trips. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel that way with Showman. I literally found myself saying, “surely this movie is almost over...” 

Cry. Cry. I love Hugh Jackman, but this role is not a re-watch for me. I would rather watch Les Mis a dozen times. 

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22 minutes ago, Junie said:

Yes!  I enjoyed this much more than the movie!

 

Thank you for posting that! I only sort of halfway watched the movie on our way-too-small TV we had at that time. Maybe I'll watch it again someday. But that clip gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

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3 minutes ago, Quill said:

That may have had a role. 

Maybe I’m just grouchy, but I didn’t even think it was so entertaining. I mean, I have totally enjoyed fluffy movies full of plot holes before. I loved the movie Enchanted, which was soooooo silly; I re-watched it multiple times and it earned a spot in the car DVD wallet to watch on long trips. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel that way with Showman. I literally found myself saying, “surely this movie is almost over...” 

Cry. Cry. I love Hugh Jackman, but this role is not a re-watch for me. I would rather watch Les Mis a dozen times. 

 

Eh, it happens.  🙂

I go to the movies every single Tuesday.  I've now seen 121 movies over the past couple of years.  I've been surprised that some movies that I thought I'd love, I didn't and vice versa.  Sometimes a movie just hits you the wrong way.  

I go with two other people and sometimes we walk out of the theater with one of us raving about the movie and the other two shaking their heads.  And sometimes two are raving and one of us thinks the movie stunk.  

It's ok that you didn't like it, but you sound a little bummed that you had wanted to like it and were disappointed.

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

 

Eh, it happens.  🙂

I go to the movies every single Tuesday.  I've now seen 121 movies over the past couple of years.  I've been surprised that some movies that I thought I'd love, I didn't and vice versa.  Sometimes a movie just hits you the wrong way.  

I go with two other people and sometimes we walk out of the theater with one of us raving about the movie and the other two shaking their heads.  And sometimes two are raving and one of us thinks the movie stunk.  

It's ok that you didn't like it, but you sound a little bummed that you had wanted to like it and were disappointed.

I think it’s so great that you have this committment to seeing movies. I watch a tiny number of movies per year. I don’t really know why, but I am so reluctant to spend time on a movie. So it is a bummer to me when I make it a point to watch a movie that so many prople seemed to love but it doesn’t do anything for me. 

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8 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

I loved the movie, but only because I wasn't looking for anything real or deep.  The movie is meant to be pure entertainment, flashy and energizing, and it delivers. I love the music, and the dancing, and the idea of the downtrodden coming into the light and finding their voice and making a mark.  I liked that there was a happy ending.  Did it really happen like that in real life?  Absolutely not.  But the movie gives me the feeling that great things could happen, to somebody, maybe even to me or my children. 

It would have been much better if they had left the name of Barnum out of it, and just made a story about a random fictional showman with a circus.  It would have been better if they hadn't called Jenny Lind an "opera" singer, and had just called her a singer, for goodness' sake.

I really loved the real life rehearsal and concept videos that came out around the making of the film.  Those, to me, were the real story.  I am moved every time I watch the shy studio singer (Keala Settle), as she starts to sing "This Is Me" from behind her music stand, then get brave to come out as the music builds, and then truly sing from the depths of her being as all the other singers encourage her to just go for it.  I can't describe it in words, but it's breathtaking to watch, inspiring, even spiritual, to me anyways.

This, my thoughts exactly.  I saw the videos of Keala as well which to me is mirrored by the character in the movie.  I enjoyed watching the behind the scenes videos more so than the movie.  

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15 hours ago, Junie said:

Yes!  I enjoyed this much more than the movie!

 

 

Thanks for sharing, this was a tear-jerker for me!  Definitely more feeling than the movie itself!

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Aw, now, see, I don't love a lot of movies, but I did love this one. I saw it in the theater and after just a few minutes, I knew my kiddos would love it.  It IS better on the big screen, but we do have a pretty decent home sound system, and it sounds really good. My 17yo and 7yo in particular love the movie a LOT. The songs, the music, the dancing, the costumes and sets. . .  We can let the plot holes go. 

 

I did appreciate that it was a clean movie that wasn't a cartoon or superhero movie that all of my kiddos and I enjoyed. That's rare. And I liked a lot of the themes in it: believing in your dreams and working for them, creativity, apologizing when you've screwed up, fidelity, everyone's talents and uniqueness being important, etc. Lots of good opportunities to discuss those themes with my kiddos, even the younger ones, and I appreciated that they were scenes that were family friendly. 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

 

It would have been much better if they had left the name of Barnum out of it, and just made a story about a random fictional showman with a circus.  It would have been better if they hadn't called Jenny Lind an "opera" singer, and had just called her a singer, for goodness' sake.

 

 

20 hours ago, katilac said:

 

But she really was an opera singer, so that would be strange if they had not called her that, I think people would have noticed that even more. 

 

20 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

 

Really?  How many people know the story of PT Barnum to the level that they know Jenny Lind was a real opera singer.

I knew that Jenny Lind was an opera singer but didn't know there was a connection between her and Barnum. I didn't realize he was the reason she came to the U.S. Her nickname was The Swedish Nightingale. I only know of her as an opera singer, nothing else. I guess I thought that's what she was known for. Didn't realize others don't know she was an opera singer.

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I see it as a musical theater story and think it would be most enjoyable on a live stage. That format seems to work better for stories told in song and for stories requiring suspension of disbelief. 

 

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On 5/4/2019 at 7:18 AM, Quill said:

 

There were so many details about which I wanted more information; i.e., how did he survive childhood after his father died? He went to work building the railroad. They show the boy Barnum watching a man talking to a crowd about jobs available building the railroad. Then they cut to grown Barnum returning to get Charity.

 I wanted the sub-plot of Carlisle being in love with the trapeze artist more fleshed-out - was the black man her brother? Yes, he was her brother. Barnum introduces them to Carlisle and they share the last name of Wheeler.  

I also feel as though it was quite glossed-over that “unique people” were detested by society; I wonder if any of those exploited people truly did feel gratitude towards Barnum (in real life) and I wonder how they felt about each other - did they truly band together like a family? I think the scene showing Tom Thumb spending most of his life hidden inside, and Lettie staying on her own in the laundry, plus the people protesting the circus because of the "freaks" in it, are supposed to imply these people were ostracized by society. Not to mention the horrified reaction of the theater goers to the circus people being in their midst as the set up to This is Me.

Soooo many questions...

 

My whole family loved the movie. But we love musicals and don't generally expect them to be accurate biographies. Which isn't to say I don't love accurate biographic documentaries also. I just don't need them to be together. One dd and I love Hamilton also, and it is far from accurate. I think Hamilton is a work of genius as a play/musical. (I am NOT saying the The Greatest Showman is comparable to Hamilton!!!) We also saw TGS in the theater first, and it is beautiful on the big screen. I also have a dd who was a serious dancer, so she LOVED the dancing scenes. I put TGS in the category of entertaining, not thought provoking.

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We loved it as a family - all of us.  It’s one of the few movies we could all enjoy together.  I didn’t much about Barnum so the inaccuracies didn’t bother me.  

 

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On 5/5/2019 at 8:15 AM, Quill said:

That may have had a role. 

Maybe I’m just grouchy, but I didn’t even think it was so entertaining. I mean, I have totally enjoyed fluffy movies full of plot holes before. I loved the movie Enchanted, which was soooooo silly; I re-watched it multiple times and it earned a spot in the car DVD wallet to watch on long trips. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel that way with Showman. I literally found myself saying, “surely this movie is almost over...” 

Cry. Cry. I love Hugh Jackman, but this role is not a re-watch for me. I would rather watch Les Mis a dozen times. 

Even with Russell Crowe’s awful singing?

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59 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Even with Russell Crowe’s awful singing?

So long as Hugh Jackman is there for me to focus on...

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1 hour ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Even with Russell Crowe’s awful singing?

One of the things I like about the movie version of Les Mis is Russell Crowe’s terrible singing. It reminds me of my terrible singing and makes singing along to One More Day as I run so much more enjoyable 😂😂

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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Even with Russell Crowe’s awful singing?

 

Yes. The tragedy of his voice is equal to the character of Javert.

 

Edited by Seasider too
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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Even with Russell Crowe’s awful singing?

It was on par with Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia.  I always liked Pierce Brosnan, but I cringed whenever he sang in that movie.  

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3 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Even with Russell Crowe’s awful singing?

It made Javert’s plunge less emotional. By that point I was ready to push him off to end his singing. 

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