Cori DeTurk’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was ready to like The Greatest Showman and wow I am heavily disappointed. Before I tear it to shreds, I wanna say I think the songs are fun, the dances are cute, and the message they tried to send is a good one. Okay. Right from the start, its worst flaw is revealed: the style does not fit the story at all. It has such poor execution that I’d call it a waste of PT Barnum’s true story. It almost made me laugh out loud. It’s as if you muted an old film and blasted a pop radio station. When I watched the “opera singer” perform her “opera”, I was utterly confused. Now, I’m not saying an old story has to have old music. I love Hamilton. Hamilton is a creative fusion of old and new with modern elements tied into the sets, costumes, visuals, and overall tone that makes the music fit perfectly. Comparing it to cooking, you can take two completely different foods and create a dish that makes sense of the pairing. The Greatest Showman artistically failed hard. It only succeeded in the box office.
Nothing feels authentic about this movie, and it’s based on a true story! Some scenes are so awfully phony it was hard for me to even watch. The Greatest Showman is less of a movie and more of a long dance routine interrupted by cheesy dialogue. The plot is painfully predictable. The drama is unbelievably cliche. The pacing is so fast, almost like it was made for people with short attention spans, but it’s way too predictable to be exciting.
I do not understand or agree with the filmmakers’ choices. One possibility is that they were focused on appealing to younger audiences as a mainstream tween hit. Wouldn’t that be ironic considering the message of the film? Be unique and let people love you for the real you! There is nothing unique about this movie. The music and dancing are like everything you hear/see in pop culture today. It’s very acceptable, digestible, likable, and safe. The characters that are actually different— like the bearded lady and the short man— don’t even get much screen time compared to the hot, dreamy Zendaya and Zac Efron. You wanna tell kids they can stray from the norm and find love? Then why mostly show them the two flawless actors with perfect skin and amazing dancing/singing skills? The other screen-time hogs are picture-perfect wife and kids who look gorgeous and happy all the time. We already accidentally learned this from Cinderella: it’s okay to come from nothing as long as you’re super attractive. Cinderella was made decades ago. What’s your excuse, Showman?
The Worstest Showman is a phony, rushed, mismatched, hypocritical, melodramatic waste of effort. If I were PT Barnum, I’d be pissed. They should’ve just recorded the catchy pop songs and made music videos.