Reel Reviews: The Greatest Showman

Reel Reviews / Josh Simpkins

Sometimes I go into a movie cold. I know who the major stars in the film are and the basics of what the storyline is about, but I try not to go beyond that bit of knowledge. I don’t watch the trailers or television spots. I don’t read synopses or early reviews, and I shy away from blabbermouths that may reveal the dreaded spoiler. I do this purposefully to keep my expectations low and any preconceived notions out of the equation. At times, I am quite disappointed; other times, I am pleasantly surprised. I must admit, friends and neighbors, I am so happy that I employed this tactic with Twentieth Century Fox’s latest gem The Greatest Showman—starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Michelle Williams (Wonderstruck), Zac Efron (The Disaster Artist), Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Rebecca Ferguson (Life)—because I thoroughly enjoyed myself the entire film.
The Greatest Showman is an excellent Biographical-Musical Drama that follows the life of Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum (Jackman) and the birth of showbusiness; in which Barnum played a huge roll. Orphaned at a delicate age, hungry and penniless, but rich with ambition and a mind crammed with imagination and fresh ideas, Barnum, along with his wife Charity (Williams) and two daughters, manages to open a macabre wax museum. His exhibits fail to impress, however, with the aid of his marvelous imagination, Barnum shifts gears from lifeless dummies to unique and peculiar, never-before-seen, in-the-flesh acts on his circus stage.
Some call Barnum’s wide collection of oddities—the famously foulmouthed mini-man Tom Thumb, a bearded lady with a golden voice, a 750-pound man with a heart bigger than his gut—a freak show; though, where others see freakish creatures, Barnum sees a celebration of humanity. When Barnum meets a playwright named Phillip Carlyle (Efron), he sees a kindred spirit. He approaches Carlyle with the opportunity to join his circus and the dramatist agrees on the condition that he receive 10 percent of the profits. Carlyle is taken with the shows unbelievable cast and soon finds himself falling for the show’s trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya).
With his family, a new apprentice, and his circus troupe, life is really looking up for Barnum, until he becomes obsessed for the cheers and respectability of the upper class, rich citizens of the world. Enter opera singer Jenny Lind (Ferguson). Barnum is certain Lind will appeal to the high-brow audience he so wants to impress, thus legitimizing Barnum’s rise in station. The showman gambles everything on an 80-city tour to showcase his newest star and her incredible vocal talents. This obsession causes Barnum to lose sight of the most important aspects of his life: his circus and his family.
The Greatest Showman is an exemplary musical that harkens back to those lively, quickstepping, melodious movies of yesteryear. The songs stick with you long after the credits have rolled. As they should be coming from the same songwriting team that wrote the hits for La La Land. Composer Justin Hurwitz, and lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul deserve much praise. Jackman and Williams are wonderful together, both holding their own vocally, they shine in this film. With that being said, I give The Greatest Showman my seal of approval. I say take a chance and go see The Greatest Showman on the big screen. I dare you to try and not fall in love with this film. Now grab a date and go have some fun at the movies.