The Greatest Showman ★★★

Ignore the vintage 20th Century Fox logo that appears on screen at the start of the film, “The Greatest Showman” is nothing if not a uniquely 21st century spectacle, a gaudy sonic boom of musical cinema that tries to sell you on the magic of the movies like it’s Black Friday at a store that’s going out of business. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a joyfully insane experience that’s as subtle as a circus and twice as loud. Forget the multiplexes; this is a movie that feels like it was made to be screened on a Jumbotron in the middle of Times Square as a shimmering advertisement for its own existence.

Shamelessly familiar and profoundly alien in equal measure, “The Greatest Showman” takes a billion of the world’s oldest story beats and refashions their prefab emotions into something that feels like it’s being projected from another planet. A lot of that strangeness is owed to the fact that the film is structured like a Broadway musical that’s been thoughtlessly repackaged as an 105-minute movie; its songs are stacked on top of each other like kids hiding inside a trench coat, screenwriters Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon hoping you’ll be too amused to notice that all of these numbers don’t actually add up to a coherent plot. Oh, you’ll notice, but you might not care.

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