Review It: The Greatest Showman

(Generic Spoiler Alert)

I recently saw The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. My wife forced me to listen to the soundtrack for a few days before I ever walked into the theater so I was already excited for the music, but I was pleased to also find that the visuals were dazzling from the first moment to the last. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and while some of the songs were a bit trite, the music provided crucially elegant emphasis where necessary.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the film it is a musical biopic loosely based on the life of circus owner PT Barnum, however, “loosely based” is a VERY generous term to use in this instance. The story is that of a young entrepreneur who follows his dream of opening a museum (circus) that celebrates the oddities of human existence.

Unfortunately, this feel-good musical is far removed from the true historical context of who PT Barnum was. The ethical complications the circus industry should not be ignored.

The less you compare the film to the true PT Barnum the easier it is to enjoy, and I suppose in some sense that is a poetic parallel. Much like the actual circus, enjoying The Greatest Showman requires that you ignore the greater context of the production itself.

The irony of the film is that the members of the circus learn to be unashamedly authentic despite that fact that Barnum himself cares far too much what the elites think of him.

The beauty of the film, however, is not in the lead character’s ambitions, but in the band of misfits he assembles who then commandeer the story and carve out their own space in the narrative.

Verdict: See it.

PC: Twentieth Century Fox

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