Movie Review: The Greatest Showman
The Greatest Showman, the latest musical drama to hit theaters, was released on December 22nd. The film was directed by Michael Gracey and was written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. Inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum, the film follows the beginnings of what would become the Barnum & Bailey Circus and delves into the lives of Barnum and the people showcased in his show. The film stars Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum and Michelle Williams as his wife, Charity. The film also features performances from Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, and a myriad of other talented up and coming actors and actresses.
The film actually opens with showman P.T. Barnum leading a musical sequence at his circus before fading into a young Barnum and his father. The film gives a glimpse into his difficult and poor upbringing and his goal to rise above these circumstances. A young Barnum also meets a young Charity, who he keeps in contact with well into adulthood. They marry and begin raising their two daughters in a humble apartment in New York. Whenever the company that Barnum works for goes bankrupt, though, Barnum begins to take some risks in order to put his dreams into action. However, he’ll soon discover that making his dreams into a reality is not an easy business.
Before we can even delve into the story, we have to talk about how amazing the music is for this film. It is a musical, but there is honestly not a song that I didn’t enjoy. They weaved each musical number perfectly into the film, and I am currently listening to the soundtrack as I write this review. The music and the choreography are some of the brightest points of this film, and both draw you into this world that Barnum is desperate to create. The performances were also spectacular, and Hugh Jackman leads that charge. I always knew that Hugh Jackman was a talented actor, but it’s phenomenal to watch him sing and nail his choreography so effortlessly. Jackman brings this charismatic showman to life, and he makes him an empathetic character on this journey. Michelle Williams gave a wonderful performance, and I had no idea she had such a lovely singing voice. It was nice to see Efron tap into another musical role, and Zendaya was a lovely addition to this talented cast.
The biggest complaint that i have surrounding this film focuses on the computer graphics. I know the film was a little trapped with an $84 million dollar budget, but the graphics became distracting in the moments that featured animals. I would also say that while the movie is fun and beautiful with a lot of meaningful themes, there were not many standout moments. I had expected there to be a few scenes that were so powerful that it stuck with me as an audience member, but I never quite had that experience. The story was still engaging and perfectly enjoyable, but after reading a little more about Barnum’s life, I would say it provides a more sanitized version of Barnum’s story.
Overall, I certainly enjoyed watching The Greatest Showman in the theater. The big musical numbers and breathtaking choreography makes for an exciting theater experience, and like I said before, the cast shines in its performances. It has has some sweet themes about following your dreams and accepting others while also going a little deeper into the costs of fame and pursuing riches. So, while it has its shortcomings as every film does, The Greatest Showman will leave you feeling inspired. It certainly is the feel good movie of the holiday season, and if you enjoy musicals, then this is one to check out while it is still in theaters.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.