THE GREATEST SHOWMAN – A Review by John Strange
I believe that every single person in this country has at least heard of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. We would not have had that organization if not for the mind and moxie of Phineas Taylor Barnum aka P.T. Barnum.
P.T. Barnum (Ellis Rubin) started life as the son of a tailor. He is portrayed in the film as the child with shoes falling apart and poor clothes who accompanied his dad on his trips to outfit the rich of New York City. On one of those visits he meets Charity Hallet (Skylar Dunn). The two correspond as they grow up.
Finally, P.T. (Hugh Jackman) arrives at the Hallet home to get the love of his life. To get to Charity (Michelle Williams), P.T. has to beard the dragon in his den. Charity's father (Fredric Lehne) gives the classic speech, "She'll be back. Mark my words!"
The two have a poor but happy life as P.T. goes from one job to another looking for his fortune. When he stumbles upon the idea of a, for lack of a better term, freak show, and brings together a crew of exotic performers who he molds into an amazing cast for his show. He is successful at bringing in the average family to his show. To bring in the upper crust, he enlists the help of Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), a New York socialite.
I would love to say that Mr. Barnum treated his performers like family. At first he did treat them well as they worked to enhance and enlarge the show. He even took them with him to meet Queen Victoria (Gayle Rankin) at Buckingham Palace. But it is during this visit that he meets Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), a singer renowned throughout Europe and it all starts to unravel.
He endangers everything in his life to bring her to America. With her on the scene, Barnum's treatment of his other performers suffers.
The story follows the ups and downs as the man pursues his desire to give his family a life of luxury. That pursuit gets pulled off-track by the beautiful chanteuse. His desires nearly lose him everything.
The Greatest Showman is enhanced by the music and songs used to progress its story. The music of this show will certainly be heard during the Academy Awards show. Even the children used have amazing talent. But the two standout voices in this film are Rebecca Ferguson (Jenny Lind) and Keala Settle (The Bearded Woman). Ms. Settle is known for her voice and singing ability, performing many times on Broadway. In my research, I found that it is indeed Ms Ferguson performing the songs Jenny Lind sings in the movie. They are both thrilling to listen to.
Hugh Jackman brings a power to his role and to his singing but we have come to expect this so I wasn't surprised to love his portrayal of the showman. Watching Zac Efron and Zendaya (Anne Wheeler, trapeze artist) perform, like watching Mr. Jackman, was a joy. Truthfully, every single actor/singer in the film performed their allotted songs flawlessly.
This is a film that will be a strong contender to win multiple Academy Awards. I will be adding this film to my personal collection when it comes out on blu-ray, but until then, I may have to see it a time or two more on the big screen. It's just that good!
Directed by: Michael Gracey
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya
MPAA Rating: PG (for thematic elements including a brawl)
Selig Rating: A+
Runtime: 105 Min.
Movie Site: The Greatest Showman
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.