The Greatest Showman

Rated 2.0

Hugh Jackman stars as 19th century impresario P.T. Barnum—a fascinating character whose real life and career are of scant interest in the movie as written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon and directed by the unready Michael Gracey. Then again, Barnum made his fortune peddling hoaxes to a gullible public, and he might be amused by how the movie runs the same scam. Jackman’s musical chops are real enough—ditto those of Zac Efron, Zendaya and others—but you can’t make a first-rate musical with third-rate songs, and these (by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, way off their game) are utterly humdrum. Any real dancing is undermined by glitzy CGI; we don’t know what’s real and what’s phony, so we assume it’s all faked. A miscast and unappealing Rebecca Ferguson as soprano Jenny Lind sinks the movie even further.