Movies, popcorn, and winter chill: Review of The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is enamoring audiences at the box office with its flashy costumes, catchy soundtrack, and star-studded cast.
Hugh Jackman traded in his wolverine claws for a ring master’s costume and an impressive singing voice to portray the historical figure, Phineas Taylor Barnum, who is best known for founding the Barnum and Bailey Circus with James Anthony Bailey in 1881.
The beginning of the film resembles the opening of Queen’s hit, “We Will Rock You,” as Barnum, dressed in his glitzy ringmaster’s costume, sings about “The Greatest Show” as the audience stomps their feet and claps.
Then, the film flashes back to the 1820s when Barnum (Ellis Robin) is a kid who travels with his tailor father to rich people’s houses.
It’s on one of these trips where he meets Charity Halletts (Skylar Dunn). The two children begin spending time together, unbeknownst by her father (Frederic Lehne). This prompts the duet, “A Million Dreams,” where the audiences watch the young children grow up into adults. This song also establishes their love for each other.
Barnum wins Charity’s (Michelle Williams) hand, but her father warns her that she’ll come back once she’s tired of living in poverty.
Barnum scrapes together a living for his wife and two daughters by working at a shipping office until the company goes bankrupt.
He then gets a loan from the bank to buy a wax museum.
After the wax museum fails, he decides to get together oddities from all over the city.
He recruits the dwarf Tom Thumb (Sam Humphrey), the Bearded Lady Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), plus others to be a part of his circus.
Barnum then hires the rich playboy Phillip Caryle (Zac Efron) to help him establish credibility among the rich, established families. Meanwhile, Caryle quickly falls in love with the African American trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya).
The rest of the film follows Barnum as he struggles to make his circus prosperous, then once it does, how the wealth and power begins to consume him and affect his marriage.
Jackman has just the right charm and charisma to play P.T. Barnum, plus he can sing and dance.
Efron and Zendaya have instant chemistry, which is clearly seen in their duet “Rewrite the Stars.”
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are the masterminds behind the songs in Showman. It’s no wonder the soundtrack has been No. 1 for two weeks in a row. They’re inspiring. The film anthem, “This is Me,” sung by Tony award winner Settle, won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes. “This is Me” becomes the circus performers’ anthem as they long for acceptance.
Some critics are unhappy with this film because it makes Barnum likeable and a savior of sorts for his oddities, when history says that all he cared about was making money.
While this may be true, The Greatest Showman gives the audience a feel-good experience and leaves the message that we should accept people of all kinds.

Author: Lauren Lum

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