Director: Michael Gracey
Year Released: 2017
Phineas Taylor Barnum (Hugh Jackman) goes from dirt-covered peasant to wildly successful huckster/benevolent con man - he marries his sweetheart (Michelle Williams), gathers the local oddities (and objects - the Feejee Mermaid isn't shown) to make them 'stars' and even tours with Swedish singer Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson) to mingle with the upper class crowd - but still can't get over his insecurities about growing up poor. The endless song-and-dance numbers make me think this was originally designed as a Broadway musical that got axed at the last minute for being too gauche, and Gracey - along with screenwriters Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon - really push the message about "loving freaks" very hard: sure, Barnum was exploiting the Bearded Lady and Tattooed Guy for cash, but he treated them like family ... right? And that's all that matters? Also sort of loathsome are the conversations with the art critic who pans Barnum's productions - the movie sides with ol' Phineas and tries to make the argument that as long as audiences are having fun, that's good enough. Well, I didn't have fun, and I was glad when it was over. D-plus.