I had several snarky thoughts when I first saw the trailer for The Greatest Showman.
-I think I preferred this movie when it was called Moulin Rouge.
-Isn’t Hugh Jackman a little old to be playing Michelle Williams’ husband?
-Really??? Another slow-motion shot of a hot-chick dangling from the ceiling???
You get the point.
See, I have to sit through a ton of movies and I’m afraid that, after a while, many of them start to look the same.
I even warned my daughters to “keep your expectations low” when we sat down to watch The Greatest Showman, and then prepared myself to be sufficiently underwhelmed.
Man…was I wrong.
The Greatest Showman is inspired by the life of circus creator and father of modern show-biz, P.T. Barnum (played by an unstoppable Hugh Jackman). Michelle Williams is his supportive wife Charity, Zac Efron is his partner Phillip Carlyle, and Zendaya is the trapeze-artist Carlyle scandalously falls for. Those two have terrific chemistry, but it’s hard to beat the electricity generated when Efron and Hugh Jackman share the screen. One of the best scenes in the whole picture is when Barnum talks Carlyle into joining the circus, and they try to out-dance each other. I just might have been stomping my feet along with them.
This is the first time out for director Michael Gracey, but he made the spot-on decision to turn The Greatest Showman into a modern-musical, opting for pop-songs over tunes from the 1800’s. He also had the forethought to hire songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, long before they won a Tony for Dear Evan Hansen and then a Golden Globe AND an Oscar for La La Land. Pasek and Paul crafted eleven original songs for The Greatest Showman, each more emotional than the last. Broadway star Keala Settle almost runs away with the whole movie when her Bearded Lady sings This is Me. Honestly, I cried so hard through that one, I was struggling to catch my breath.
The Greatest Showman might feel a little predictable and twee at times, but the emotions are so raw and authentic, you probably won’t care. It’s also rated PG, so it’s one you can share with kids of any age. My own daughters (ages 10 and 13) see almost as many movies as I do, and are strangely even more cynical. Even THEY were pulled into the music and magic of The Greatest Showman. It’s the perfect film to enjoy with your whole family over the holidays, and that’s coming from someone who hates musicals.
No, I wasn’t looking forward to The Greatest Showman and I was fully prepared for disappointment…but sometimes it feels GOOD to be WRONG. (A+)