A stunning musical spectacle that definitely lives up to the hype.
For the past several months, people all over the internet have been raving about this feel-good musical based on the story of P. T. Barnum and his creation of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Even some of those who haven’t seen the film have been listening to (and loving) the soundtrack. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see this musical in theaters (I didn’t even know about it until it exploded online and a lot of my friends started talking about it) but I gave it a watch when it came out on Amazon, and I have a few thoughts to share.
There are so many things that The Greatest Showman gets absolutely right. The acting and singing are phenomenal, and the entire film is a feast for the eyes, with elaborate dance numbers, gorgeous costumes, and bright, saturated colors that feel so refreshing after the muted, grayish tones of the more ‘serious’ films I’ve seen so much of recently. The story is not completely historically accurate (and in fact I’ve read elsewhere that the film sort of glosses over the “darker side” of P. T. Barnum in order to tell a happier, more uplifting story). But the purpose of the film is not as a biography, but rather as a celebration of misfits and risk-takers, as proclaimed by the musical’s exultant anthem “This Is Me”.
This song is sung in the film by the so-called ‘freaks’ who preform in the circus shows, people shunned and despised by ‘regular’ society who have found a home for themselves in the circus. It’s a powerful song, and a powerful message, and it is well delivered by the movie.
Some people might be a little thrown off by the very modern-sounding music, especially in a musical set in the 1800s, but I actually really enjoyed the songs, and I think they worked well in the film. The music part of musicals are all about expressing character’s feelings through song and dance, and prim, proper classical-style music wouldn’t have allowed for the soaring choruses and thundering rhythms that just fit this film’s emotional beats so well.
Perhaps the one complaint I have about this film is that in a few places the dialogue seems stilted, unnatural, perhaps it’s even a bit cheesy on some occasion. This problem doesn’t effect the entire film. It is mostly concentrated right at the beginning, and after those first ten minutes or so the writing evens out and becomes more natural.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed The Greatest Showman. The visuals and music are absolutely stunning, and the story has a warmth and heart to it that seems to be missing from many recent movies. I can totally see why all of Twitter’s been obsessed with this film for the past few months!
Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“They don’t call it the Greatest Show on Earth for nothing!
Content note: I am glad to say that I didn’t notice any bad language in this film. There is an lightly implied romantic affair between Barnum and Jenny Lind (Lind kisses Barnum on stage in front of reporters to start a rumor that they are having an affair, which is not actually true) and personally I think a few of the female performers’ costumes are a tad revealing, but, depending on your personal views, this could certainly be seen as a family-friendly film.
Thanks so much for reading my review of The Greatest Showman! Have you seen the film yet? Did you like it? What’s your favorite song? (I’m torn between “The Greatest Show” and “The Other Side”, personally.) Let’s chat in the comments!