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Hats off to Hugh; The BIG release.

Byline: With CHRIS HUNNEYSETT Twitter @ChrisHunneysett


Cert PG Running time 104 minutes ***

Roll up to get your tickets for this enjoyably exuberant period musical based on the life of circus impresario, PT Barnum.

Absurdly sentimental and generous in its portrayal of the self-styled greatest showman, it's an all-singing and dancing rags-to-riches tale which, despite the presence of a glamorous trapeze artist, never really flies.

It's greatest strength is in the casting of X-Men star Hugh Jackman as Barnum, and he fizzes with old school razzle dazzle in a role which maximises his talents. With his experience of performing in West End shows such as Oklahoma! there isn't a movie star today better equipped to play the part, and the likeable Aussie actor seizes the opportunity to unleash a full-beam performance.

As Barnum's business partner, Zac Efron harnesses his High School Musical pedigree to decent effect. He's romantically paired with pop singer Zendaya, who builds on her impressive acting turn in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Dreaming big to please his wife and daughters, Barnum puts on stage a menagerie of 'freaks', who are variously large, small, hairy or conjoined. But his hard-won success is threatened when his head is turned by Rebecca Ferguson's sexy Swedish songbird.

Hugh fizzes with school dazzle in role, putting experience West End to good This is a Disneyfied vision of Barnum's life, written by Bill Condon who directed this year's monster smash, Beauty and the Beast. He creates a highly stylised world where the circus seems more real than the outside world.

A virtue is made of Barnum's extravagant salesmanship techniques, while his financial shenanigans and exploitative tendencies are glossed over.

But it's heart is in the right place, emphasising equality, celebrating diversity and defending the rights of anybody to burst into song at the drop of a top hat.

The Greatest Showman succeeds in offering colourful, easygoing entertainment which, from the little we learn of him, I imagine the real Barnum would heartily approve.

Hugh Jackman fizzes with old school razzle dazzle in the lead role, putting his experience in West End shows to good use


TOP STUFF Hugh Jackman as PT Barnum

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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