We went to see Black Panther, but that was sold out until 10:45 pm (front row only), so we went down the street to the $3 Theater, which is now the $3.50 Theater due to the success of Trumponomics, and saw the mystery hit movie The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman as a singing and dancing P.T. Barnum.
Nobody could imagine a straight-to-the-screen P.T. Barnum musical would be a hit in 2017-18, but after taking in less than $9 million its opening weekend and receiving dismissive reviews, it just kept going and going and will break $150 million by Friday.
This is what the public wants.
The Greatest Showman is not the same show as the 1980 Broadway musical hit Barnum with Jim Dale as the circus impresario and Glenn Close as Mrs. Barnum, but the storyline is pretty much the same: Barnum becomes a big success with his freak show, but then in 1850 falls in love with Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, but then returns to Mrs. Barnum (played by Michelle Williams in the movie).
At the $3.50 theater, the black ladies in the audience were particularly emphatic in their distaste for the wily snare laid for our hero’s affections by Jenny Lind: “Homewrecker!” one observed. “Ummphhhh!” another pointedly noted.
The secret of this PG-rated movie’s popularity is that it will make a popular high school (or middle school) musical in the near future.
The choreography is energetic dubstep that doesn’t require much skill to dance. The dialogue won’t confuse too many people.
The kids will not have to be funny in their acting, just super-sincere. Personally, I’ve always kind of gotten P.T. Barnum confused with W.C. Fields. Besides the initials, Barnum was famous for saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute” (although he probably didn’t say it), while Fields said, “Never give a sucker an even break.” Fields frequently played a Barnumesque character, such as the carnival barker displaying two normal-sized twins:
The Punkwat twins! Brentwood is the world’s smallest giant, whilst his brother, Elwood, is the largest midget in the world. They baffle science.
(Is W.C. Fields the most forgotten of the comedy giants?)
But in this movie, Barnum never says anything cynical. He’s just very earnest as he leads the struggle for Freak Awareness.
There are two supporting roles for fat kids in the future school production as the Bearded Lady and the World’s Fattest Man.
The lead roles appeared designed to cut down on the kind of audition feuds that recently sank the Ithaca High School production of Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Greatest Showman has three roughly equal leading lady roles, which is a good idea since probably nothing is more of a pain to high school teachers than dealing with the fallout from not casting ambitious drama queens in the main female role.
And if you are a handsome boy who tries out for the Hugh Jackman role and doesn’t get it, you can still get the Zac Efron role as Barnum’s junior business partner, which is almost identical to the title role, just smaller.
Zac Efron’s character is in The Greatest Showman presumably because Zac was in High School Musical and that’s pretty much the theme of the new movie: this would make a good high school musical.
A lot of the old time musicals that high schools put on are way too sophisticated for today’s youth, so why not create a new musical that doesn’t have complex George Bernard Shaw dialogue like My Fair Lady or high quality Frank Loesser songs like Guys and Dolls.
The songs are by the guys who wrote La La Land’s lyrics, but not that movie’s music, unfortunately. I went to a UCLA football game last fall at the Rose Bowl and the UCLA marching band gave a concert afterwards. Marching bands are always looking for current popular hits that would be semi-okay when orchestrated for 200 horns. In “Another Day of Sun,” (the opening freeway song in La La Land), the UCLA band has a spectacularly orchestrated new jazz number that will likely become a standard for them.
As you may recall awhile ago there was a giant Sex Discrimination scandal because when Kevin Spacey got replaced by Christopher Plummer at the last moment in All the Money in the World, Michelle Williams redid her scenes for union scale, while Mark Wahlberg’s shark-like agent got his client $1.5 million to redo his scenes. Clearly, the producers just gave $1.5 million to Wahlberg because of his Male Privilege.
Well, no, actually. The reason Wahlberg’s contract gave him co-star approval while Williams did not is because Wahlberg has Star Privilege while practically nobody can recognize Michelle Williams. She’s fine in the nice mom lady role in this movie, just as she’s always pretty good, but she has a forgettable name and face. That’s not fair, but who said being a movie star was a matter of fairness?