Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron in character on The Greatest Showman. Photo: Supplied
Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron in character on The Greatest Showman. Photo: Supplied
Hugh Jackman. Photo: Supplied
Hugh Jackman. Photo: Supplied
WHERE to start with this musical that aims to tell the life of PT Barnum and how he started the Barnum and Bailey Circus? How about here: none of the songs are memorable.

There's no I Dreamed a Dream, there's no Circle of Life, there isn't even a Let it Go (let it gooooooo). See? I bet at least one of those songs is an earworm right now. You're welcome. The songs sound like they were written by the love child of Fall Out Boy and Imagine Dragons - if they were trying to impress One Direction. Yeah.

So anyway, the film starts with young PT and his dad, a tailor, waiting hand and foot on a rich family. He has eyes for the daughter, Charity. PT becomes an orphan, is shown kindness by a different-looking being in a cloak and then becomes a man with a business plan.

Against her parents’ will, Charity (played by Michelle Williams) marries PT (Hugh Jackman) and they have two kids. After retrenchment from a shipping company, PT decides to open a museum but his daughter rightfully tells him: “I think you have too many dead things in your museum, Daddy.”

He sets out to save the “unique” and the “freaks” from their lives lived in the shadows by becoming their ringmaster as they do things like dance and sing while having an “abnormality”. A snarky newspaper critic calls these shows a circus and PT decides that's the perfect name to describe what he does.

He transforms from this nice kid to a man who will do anything for a coin. And he becomes a serial liar. If an obese person wants to be included in the show, PT lies about how much they really weigh. Same with the tallest man. But even with all that said, notice how all of the “freaks” are just regular people who happen to be taller or shorter or bigger or just have melanin, or even PCOS.

But they are consistently referred to in derogatory terms. You can blame it on the era if you'd like to. That doesn't change the fact that The Greatest Showman is one of the greatest displays of superficiality. And the lead character is made to be someone the viewer should, at some point, feel sorry for. But there isn't enough development of that character to see an evolution.

And like the opera singer Jenny Lind tells PT: “When you're careless with other people, you bring ruin upon yourself.”