“The Greatest Showman”: is it the greatest show on earth?

New musical draws crowds to theaters for a two-hour whimsical circus film  


Photo courtesy of ‘The Greatest Showman’ official motion picture soundtrack. The poster for the “The Greatest Showman” mirrors the look and feel of the film with Barnum (Jackman) standing front and center under the spotlight, mimicking the public eye on Barnum and his new and unusual exhibition.

In a cynical day and age, filmmakers and film critics wonder about the legitimacy of modern day musicals in modern day Hollywood. “The Greatest Showman” is rapidly proving that theory wrong, as the new and unique film that has left critics and viewers alike, heads turning. Despite a mixed varieties of reviews questioning its successes, there’s no doubt that it’s making a significant splash in the film industry. Nominated for two Golden Globes, two Empire awards, a Guild award and an Oscar for best song, “The Greatest Showman” isn’t a film easily forgotten.

When the film’s trailer was released, it automatically garnered attention because of its star-studded cast of actors, featuring Zendaya, Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman. Although the trailer itself is relatively base level and doesn’t show the truly compelling plot the full film displays, younger attendees fled to the theaters to catch Efron sing for the first time since 2008’s “High School Musical 3.  With Efron’s performance, alongside the other high accolade actors like Zendaya and Jackman, the film has quickly become an unlikely hit.

‘The Greatest Showman” immediately starts off with a bang as Jackman launches into an introductory edition of the song “The Greatest Show”. With the colors intense, the performances dialed all the way up  the film emits an infectious and powerful energy. The opening 20 minutes of the film are a whirlwind of character development and set-up for the plot, as a young P.T Barnum (Jackman) grows from boy to teenager, facing homelessness and hardship at every turn.

Viewers then watch Barnum develop into a man, married with two children and together with his childhood sweetheart Charity (Michelle Williams). When Barnum’s job gets voided, he miraculously gets a significant loan from the bank to fund his dreams of whimsy and oddities, hoping to make the public happy and become the performer he’s always dreamed of.  Not without pitfalls, the film follows the struggles of Barnum, his family, his previously successful playwright partner Phillip Carlyle (Efron) and the rest of the performers including trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya).

The fast paced film makes for a quick and smart execution of what could be a potentially bland film. The music is infectious and matches the bright art direction scene to scene, as actors inject life to the movie.

“The Greatest Showman” despite it’s vivid imagination, is not without its flaws. The CGI can take away from the illusion of magic the film is trying to cast, and the script comes off as corny at times where it could truly shine.

No matter the cheesy nature of the film or the ways it could be more successful, the movie has a time and a place. With the surprisingly twisting and turning plot, a compelling set of music numbers and a prominent cast of big-ticket names and break-out stars, the movie is crafted to be a fun, quick-running family-friendly experience.

While ‘The Greatest Showman’ is definitely not a “La La Land” level film that’s going to revolutionize musicals and movies from now onward, it was an enjoyable concept, executed well. Adults and children alike can appreciate the film’s element of wonderment and the positive themes of perseverance and following your dreams. When the movie comes together in the end, the music, art direction and acting, perfectly embody the magic that the movie so clearly promotes.