14 January 2018

Freaks And Geeks

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“Do you want to go and watch that new Hugh Jackman thing?” I asked my mate. “The musical?” he responded, “Hell yeah I want to see that.. but where will we see it?” This question threw me slightly because we literally only ever go to the same cinema. “Err where do you think?” I asked. “Well..” he responded with slight irritation, “It's a musical isn't it so how the fuck am I supposed to know?” “It's still a film though” I stated whilst still confused. “Oh” he said with an obvious realisation that I was about to take the piss out of him. “Did you think it was a live show?” I asked whilst knowing full well that he had. “Well ..yeah” he answered sheepishly “But it's an easy mistake to make isn't it?!” ...“You thought that Hugh Jackman was doing a live musical show around here.. in the arse-end of nowhere.. and not only was I asking if you were interested the day before but that tickets would still be available for us to just rock up with zero notice?” “Yes” he snapped whilst now on the defence. “Well, I'm sorry to disappoint” I said remembering that he was the same person that once thought a double cheese-burger meant that he'd get a single burger with double cheese on top. “Do you still want to come?” I checked. “Yeah” he said, “But can you do me a favour? When you write about this film in your blog can you not tell people that it was me who thought I'd be seeing Hugh Jackman live?” “That's not a problem, Kris” I promised, “Nobody will ever know it was you”.

And so the next day Kris, myself, and two other friends arrived at the cinema to see The Greatest Showman which tells the story of P.T Barnum and his desire to own a circus. Or something. To be honest I'm not quite sure what the main character's motivation was.. or really what the point of the story was for that matter? I think it was about a selfish man that wanted to make money from owning a circus that he'd filled with as many freaky looking people as he could before realising that family and friends were more important. In which case I'm glad I now know what will presumably happen in the last episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show. But in reality, the film's story just seemed like a skeleton in which to hang a bunch of big song and dance numbers on which is fair enough I suppose. We get a brief look at Barnum's childhood in which he's slapped for making a young girl laugh. So rather than learn his lesson he starts a song that last so long that not only do they both grow up during it but she also manages to get pregnant and have two children of her own. Although to be fair I do know at least a couple of Bob Dylan songs that feel like they last this long too. Once the little boy has grown into the mighty Hugh Jackman, we see him risk, fluke, and gamble his way into business before recruiting his circus of freaks like a frantic casting agent for Britain's Got Talent.

And when it came to the freaks I have to say that I was little disappointed with what he was able to get hold of. Firstly he meets the bearded lady who is so ashamed of how she looks that she hides herself behind a white sheet whilst at work... because apparently it hasn't occurred to her to just have a fucking shave. I mean.. if you're a woman with a beard then I suppose that's not an every-day sight.. but to be called a freak seems a bit fucking harsh. All she needs to do is spend five minutes in front of the mirror with a razor each day and then she can live her life in peace. She shouldn't be ashamed because she's the bearded lady, she should be ashamed because clearly she's just a fucking lazy one. At one point when working in his show, the building catches fire whilst she's in it. If even one flame had flickered onto her chin then she'd have been out of a fucking job, so how is she a freak? On top of her there's also a guy whose actual only claim to abnormality is the fact that he has a lot of tattoos, but fucking hell? The only difference between him and some of the people that'd drink in the pub I used to work in is that he doesn't also own a motorbike. Does that really make you a freak? I live near Liverpool and I could get you a better selection of freaks than that by just running through the city centre with a fucking wheelbarrow.

The Elephant Man used to be paraded around as though he was a freak and that poor fucker actually had to live with his disability. If I was him and I was on the same wage as the lazy fucking lady and the bikerless biker then I'd see my arse. Especially when considering the fact that the Elephant Man's wage was presumably fucking peanuts. Although at least I could identify what their selling point was, I suppose. There was also a couple of Asian men that only ever walked around with their arms around each other but weren't identical twins.. and if they were conjoined then I have no clue as to what body part was connecting them? So presumably they just liked to lean against each other and were actually just connected through stubbornness. Or maybe with their arm around each other it's just that they two of the only people in the world that actually like each other. At one point in the film a gang of local yobs attack the circus having previously aired their distaste for such a show in their town. In an attempt to rescue their home, the fake freaks fight back by utilising their individualities and honestly for a few short minutes I swear to God that this film turned into a really shit instalment of the X-Men.

Ironically the film itself is kind of similar to Barnum's show in that on the surface the thing was shiny and eye catching but underneath was pretty hollow, having required you to do little more than smile and stare. I'll admit that I found some of the songs to be really catchy and that I loved the choreography of the big dances... but that's as far as it went really. The film lacks the grim authenticity of Les Miserables, the style of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, or just the out and out bat-shittery of Moulin Rouge... but it does have a few toe tappers and it does have Hugh Jackman dancing his little claws off. It's funny to think that after years of seeing Jackman as Wolverine, the hard-drinking, chain-smoking, misanthropic mutant with knives in his knuckles, it turns out that he's actually more of a song and dance man at heart. And as a succession of colourful moments, The Greatest Showman worked for me but as a film, I can't say that I connected with it in the slightest. There's no motivation to the characters beyond what's clearly signposted ..which is possibly kind of the point. But like those fidget spinners we've all already forgotten about, just because you understand the the point of something that doesn't necessarily make it good.

Just look at Hail, Caesar for example... you could argue that, that too is also a series of moments which at one point even includes a musical sequence that would work perfectly well in this film. But Hail, Caesar connects those moments perfectly, it has subtext, a message, and feels as though it was made because the Coens love the world that they're in. Although I believe that Jackman also loves the world of this movie, the moments that stand out really do just feel like they were made as adverts for the soundtrack. I saw this movie with four people and I came out feeling as though I'd seen some enjoyable rubbish. The Greatest Showman is a series of music videos that work brilliantly in the moment but don't add up to anything more than that. Two of my friends hated the movie and one of them is actually pregnant so I suppose she technically counts as two people on her own right now. Apparently the baby only moved once throughout which she suspects was in order for it to put its fingers in its fucking ears. My anonymous friend who thought he was seeing Hugh Jackman live however loved the movie. So maybe you'll like it because he loved it even though the occasion was clearly a step down from what he was hoping for. Or maybe you'll hate it because his judgement can occasionally be a little off. He is after all the same person that once thought that my reference to something being a little 'taboo' meant that it came from a planet in Star Wars. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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