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Yes No Maybe So: "The Greatest Showman"

by Nathaniel R

A big moment in Trailerville has arrived! We have the first taste of the second annual Pasek & Paul musical / Christmas Oscar hopeful. Yes, we're pretending it's a franchise now post-La La Land. After the jump let's obsessively break down the first trailer for the Hugh Jackman party known as The Greatest Showman. We'll do it the way we sometimes do it when we're really excited about something since I maybe just watched this 7 times in a row but who's counting?

Curtains up. Hit the lights... 

 Rather than the typical Yes No Maybe So list columns... just each moment on that particular scale.

Maybe So
You have our attention. The clickety click of typewriters - it sounds almost musical... but what no production number that kicks off rhythmically this way?

Hugh with a pencil in his mouth and some FYC Set Decoration period work. Looks cute. Can they auction off that pencil please? Asking for a friend. 

Oh No!...Maybe So?... Wait, that's a Yes in Disguise
Oh no, Hugh gets fired from the job that bores him. Crazy moustaches for the FYC Makeup period work.

Sure why not
Stars. They're just like us. Hugh is sad that his roof is leaking.

Hugh blowing out a candle. One guess as to the wish he made.

Yup, an Oscar nomination for his 49th birthday! Perhaps a second Oscar nomination for his second movie musical will convince him to stop wasting his gift. If he gave 17 (!!!) years to that superheroic mutant Logan run, surely he can give the next 5 or so to the movie musical genre. Time's a wasting for those leading man years.

MAYBE. Errr....

This is not the life i promised you. not even close.

Hugh sad at the bar. Michelle Williams playing what looks like an uber supportive and remarkably happy wife. There doesn't look to be much all caps DRAMA in this performance... but Oscar LOVES a supportive wife.  Yet this bit worries me because it looks a little generic, and maybe it's too retro heternormative (happy homemaker wife and her providing man!).

Plus the bar set looks a little fake without being artificial (at least in this CGI-looking shot) It's all about style and the latter is preferrable.

This is the earnest moment that really kicks the trailer (and one suspects the movie) into high gear. A potentially quiet beat (which spectacles need) but filled with old timey magic. Cue: P.T. Barnum's stroke of inspiration. Jackman's perfect face sells it.

And then the music kicks in that we've been waiting for.

Look out cuz here I come...🎵

Why are shots of unfurling banners always so appealing/dramatic?

Maybe So
P.T. Barnum recruits. We'll hope that all the supporting cast members have fun bits rather than just adding visual interest to the frame. i.e. cross your fingers that the "everyone is special" bit really plays rather than being a screenplay platitude.

Every one of us is special.

Even bearded ladies are special. See also Salma Hayek in Cirque du Freak and Kathy Bates and Kathy Deitch in American Horror Story (Bearded Ladies have made quite a comeback in pop culture, haven't they?!)

...and nobody is like anyone else.

Love the shot of the siamese twins flip but too quick to screencap.


Ready? Showtime.

Hugh's megawatt smile & contagious excitement. gaaaah *melts into puddle*

Yes with Some Nervous Trepidation
Hugh and Michelle dancing in moonlight. There are quite a few glimpses of this number in the trailer so it better be a romantic doozy and they better have great chemistry. It's obviously Michelle Williams's big 'prove you belong in this genre' scene.

But this sequence. Can this movie possibly get out from under Moulin Rouge!'s shadow when it seems to be borrowing so liberally? If this right here is actually the first shot of the young leads falling in love  and it involves slo-mo and him seeing her for the first time while she's on a trapeze we have some plagiarism problems, don'cha think?

Maybe So
This shot seems to indicate that Michelle & Hugh were childhood sweethearts and we get a flashback. We'll excuse their 12 year age difference, then. At least it's not 20!

I make no apologies. This is me. 🎵

Yaaaas Queen²
Hugh Jackman silhouette strut is EVERYTHING.
That bearded lady pivot with cleavage is EVERYTHING.

Our favorite part of event movie trailers is always the cast cards. 

Ready? Roll Call...

Hugh Jackman is always a Yes, even in bad movies. So...


Did you ever see The Boy From Oz or Oklahoma! with Hugh. He's just an A+ song & dance man.

Zac Efron -We wish him well but if this movie rescues him from the comic dross he's been headlining lately, he'd better make good use of the momentum rather than squandering it. So.... MAYBE SO

Michelle Williams is a superb tragedienne. But who knew that this would be an against-type move for her? YES

Rebecca Ferguson. Okay, so you may recall that I predicted her for a Supporting Actress nod in the "April Foolish Predictions Before We'd Seen Anything" party.  I may have jumped the gun since she's barely in the trailer. But on the other hand the character she's playing could be very juicy IF she has screen time. She plays a famous diva singer who commanded big bucks and was a ruthless negotiator for her services to P.T. Barnum.

Ferguson has been fairly exciting to watch as she's been rising, particularly in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nationso so this is a solid Yes.

Zendaya is having quite a year since she's also got Spider-Man Homecoming coming. I'm agnostic on her at the moment (haven't seen much)  but she's talented and it looks like she's having fun so Maybe So Leaning Yes.

Cool guys don't look at explosions. But they *do* look at fire breathing which provides the same kind of awesome backlighting without all the violence.

Maybe So
Zendaya and Zac in love but is he dying? Have they reversed the Moulin Rouge! genders with illness? Is this interesting or a distraction from the business we call show?

Michelle Williams getting her Movie Star on in this shot. So excited to hear her sing whatever tune this is. Can The Greatest Showman nab two Original Song nominations like La La Land did? If so which song joins "This is Me" or whatever this main theme song playing in the background of the trailer is called. 

YNMS Not Appicable
This is merely an insert shot of me in Hugh Jackman drag running to the movie theater.


Maybe So
The Barnum children doing ballet? How overstuffed is this movie?

No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.

This is me. 🎵

It's only 180 days until Christmas I... I can handle...the wait. *sobs*

Maybe So
That title card shot is a bit underwhelming after all that madness. Couldn't they have added some glitter or fireworks or something?

And finally the stinger...

PHILIP: I can't just run off and join the circus?

PT BARNUM: Why not? You clearly have a flair for show business.

PHILIP: Show business. Never heard of it.

PT BARNUM: I just invented it.

Maybe So
This banter plays a bit stiff but... Oh let's be real. We're fully YES and will drink to that.  If Hugh Jackman's selling it, aint we all buying? 

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Reader Comments (60)

Definitely interested, depending on reviews. Michelle Williams does appear to be carrying a lighter load here (she deserves it), and her "My Week With Marilyn" performance may have been a good indicator that she could do this convincingly. (I know not everyone liked that movie or that perf but my point stands.) Fingers crossed :)

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKJ

The first reactions to the actual movie were not great and the reactions to those trailers I'm seeing are just tragic. I wish Fox used this to push for Logan and not the other way around but Hugh spent so much energy on this project so I am hoping it's decent. In any case I'll love it, he is always wonderful

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersati

I am all in on musicals so I will be there but...this feels hollow to me. Jackman is always amazing but the song leans blandly pop and the message of "we're all special" feels generic. I hope this goes deeper...

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMusic Man

I'd be more excited if Pasek and Paul could write lyrics beyond the sixth grade level. Even the songs of theirs I like ("Audition" "Waving Through a Window") have banal rhymes and trite sentiments. I hope they surprise me here, but I'm dubious. That said, I'm excited to see Michelle get to finally use the happy colors of her palette.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I am OBVIOUSLY a YESYESYES I NEED THIS MOVIE NOW for this, but the song backing the trailer sounds so generic I'm STILL unsure if it's one of the movie's originals or some wannabe pop smash that I haven't heard of yet.

The songs will ALWAYS make or break a musical, even more so than the performances. My main problem with Pasek & Paul has always been that a lot of their songs sound generic, so I'm hoping for some stretching/growth/personality from this. Because obviously Hugh and Zac will be selling the shit out of it, and it certainly looks like Michelle will be, too. But if they're selling something unworthy of them, will it smack of desperation?

But yeah... production design, costumes, makeup, cinematography, performances all look A+, so I'm not too worried YET. BRING IT ON.

(I still don't know why they didn't just adapt Barnum, which is a great musical, instead of writing something new)

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Are Hugh and Zac portraying a lean gay daddy and his hot young gay lover? Because that would be of interest.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

Our first nonstarter of the season.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I only care about Michelle. The rest looks awful.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Looks awesome. Surprised how well that song works - wasn't expecting this kind of a take for this movie. Hugh looks like he's in his element. Can't wait.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterT-Bone

Looks good. I feel like dipshits on the internet (including this lovely site) throw around the word "awful" like they're a part of some Center for People Who Can't Like Anything. It's a cult I think.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTr

That's a good ol'fashioned YES for me.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

I didn't think this would be a TIFF entry but with the trailer dropping so soon - maybe it will be. What do you think, Nathaniel?

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Tr -- Bite me

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Michelle Williams looks so cute with long hair :)

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Looks as entertaining as the Doris Day snorefest entitled 'Billy Rose's Jumbo.'

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

PETA should immediately boycott this circus film because, to them, a Ringling Barnum & Bailey show means alleged mistreatment of animals. Thanks for burying this Grand tradition, PETA...

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

AWFUL I guess they used Instagram filters. The production design looks like a cheap copy of Catherine Martin, Hugh is on his Tony Host Mode and Efron's face is well, I can't even find the word.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Sorry Nathaniel, but this looks very generic and uninteresting. Not even the costumes are memorable.

I didn't realize the Zendaya moment in the trailer was a complete Moulin Rouge! ripoff until you mentioned it. No matter it was the only thing about the trailer I liked!

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Yes but.... what the fuck was that awful song? Seriously? Was that fucking necessary?

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

So Diahann Carroll is supposed to be in this? I wonder if they'll show Hugh Jackman purchasing her as a slave and publicly giving her character an autopsy to try to prove she was old enough to be George Washington's "mammy."

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArlo

This is my movie for the year. I've been looking forward to it since first hearing "This Is Me" when introduced in Hugh's Broadway to Oz tour (video can be seen on You Tube). Love the message and finally a film that really showcases Hugh's singing & dancing abilities.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

This movie had me at Hugh Jackman and Musical, but I will echo the sentiments of whoever mentioned the banality of the song/lyrics. It also sounds way more contemporary than expected, though anachronism isn't always a problem (certified Moulin Rouge! lover right here), so we'll just have to wait and see. I'm all in.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Disappointing trailer for a film that had intrigued me. At best (or worst?), an Actor nod to recognize a passion project, like they did for Bette and "For the Boys." Doubtful I'll make room for it unless reviews are steady and positive.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterzig

wow tough crowd today... not that musicals are ever greeted warmly immediately. But still. I think it looks promising if a bit too similar to Moulin Rouge! at first glance.

June 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Count me in on this one. A little dubious about the song in the trailer, but it's a solid story that's well cast (even Efron and Williams, who actually *can* sing).

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

And I thought the trailer of "Stronger" was terribly awful and corny... This sinks more. And Efron is perhaps the worst luck totem in his projects.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterleon

I wish they cast someone who could pull off "movie star" better than Michelle Williams. She doesn't have that factor, as painfully obvious in My Week With Marilyn. She's fine on a technical level but does lack that certain something else.

Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, is a MOVIE STAR. I watched him live on stage and he was sublime. I just think he was born in the wrong era. I still don't think he's found his perfect vehicle, although fingers crossed this is it.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Excited for Jackman and Williams' performances the most. Could've done without Efron and Zendaya. And the song in the trailer sounds awful, which is a shame because I loved the La La Land soundtrack. Have high hopes because god knows we need more musicals. But this looks overstuffed.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I was a yes with the production stills and I'm a GIVE ME NOW! with the trailer.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

The song over the trailer is sappy. Michelle Williams seems fake. And Zac Efron automatically lowers the appeal. Would see if it got good reviews but based on the trailer, no. Too Disney.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDevon

I'm a maybe on the movie, but this trailer is kind of a disaster. I don't know my Barnum history, but they're really going with a generic "proud to be different" message? That's not only a played out approach to sideshows, but it feels false to the time period. (Really, nothing exploitative about this circus? Barnum was just a swell guy who cared for everyone? That's the story?) PLUS they still have four very conventionally attractive leads, which makes the sentiment about difference feel even more hollow.

Why get a new Pasek and Paul musical and not advertise the hell out of their involvement? Bizarre choices all around.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Dude, for such a bad trailer, you have overanalize.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Did not like the song, but I'm still a HELL, YES.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

This song is really really awful.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

whoever's playing the strong man in the freak show had better hope hugh and zac keep their shirts on

not that excited about this falling into the trend of musicals pretending they aren't in their trailers - i want to hear some toe tapping show tunes

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I can't wait! Methinks people doth protest too much about this looking "awful".

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I have to admit I cringed a little while watching this, but I will definitely give it a chance. We need more films like this in these godawful times. Michelle Williams looks radiant, and Hugh Jackman is a bonafide musical movie star - a modern day Gene Kelly. I am lukewarm on Efron and Zendaya, but we'll see.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Gross. Awful, generic song. Looks cheap. NO all around.

June 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJim

It looks like shit.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterty

Two words: "Disaster waiting". Awful mess.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterZzz

I'm a maybe on the movie, but this trailer is kind of a disaster. I don't know my Barnum history, but they're really going with a generic "proud to be different" message? That's not only a played out approach to sideshows, but it feels false to the time period. (Really, nothing exploitative about this circus? Barnum was just a swell guy who cared for everyone? That's the story?) PLUS they still have four very conventionally attractive leads, which makes the sentiment about difference feel even more hollow.

Maybe the film will be different, but if not, I suspect everyone involved in it is going to get dragged for the whitewashing of Barnum since I've already seen a lot of complaints about how Jackman's character is nothing like the real Barnum based on the trailer.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRichAuntPennybags

I am all in. This type of good old fashioned movie musical are few and far between. Give me a bit of razzle dazzle Hugh !

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSean C

For those not familiar with Barnum, there are several books. Basically for his time he was considered politically progressive and kind including this quote by a former employee, “very kind-hearted and benevolent and gifted with a sense of fun which was even stronger than his desire for dollars.”. He certainly had flaws, but within the context of his time, quite a good man.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

Ah, so here's the Christmas movie that our family of all ages can agree to go to. Okay, looks like fun (although I hope the music doesn't sound like that thing playing over the trailer).

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Looks sappy and fake. Trite trailer song. Nope.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaulie

Am I the only one that cringed for most of the trailer? It just seems like it's trying *very* hard. That "oh no! I'm being fired and can't provide for my wife and daughters!" scene is so generic at this point. I want to like this movie - I really do. I love musicals but this just looks... a bit trite? The whole "we're all different but that's okay!" is a great message and all but not when it's being done in the exact same way as always. It doesn't help that I'm kind of allergic to Zac Efron. My gut is saying this movie's going to be a mess but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'm wrong.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlostatthecinema

Yes -nice visuals should have picked a different song

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

What a piece of crap!

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHillary

Maybe so leaning yes.
That music though. If the movie's showtunes have the same generic modern pop feel, I will totally be turned off.
Michelle Williams is so YES! Your tweet about her is so on point, Nat.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I can see a lot of Efron- Jackman fan fiction in the future...: )

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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