When a friend first asked if I wanted to join the “circus” for an evening (a/k/a The Greatest Showman), I was a bit skeptical.
My first thought, “Why go out when I go to the circus every day for free?” (read: life)
My second thought, “Hmm…I am intrigued by this exotic sounding proposition. What do you have in mind?”
Mind you, I’m not typically big on the latest “hype” movies, as what I thought would be “The Greatest Showman.” I don’t usually go for the over-manufactured storylines that Hollywood is cranking out these days. I’m not big on pop culture and I have never been. But when my friend, who is also not into the “latest craze” raved about the music and how incredible and motivating it was, of course (being the insatiable music lover that I am) I had to go. So, off we went.
I hadn’t a clue of what to expect walking into Showman, aside from that I was in for a treat, according to my friend. Sure, I knew all about P.T. Barnum and his infamous circus, remembered the commercials for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s circus from my childhood. I admittedly carried a bit of that skepticism into the theatre, still unsure that it would be as “amazing” as my friend had felt it was and expecting nothing more than a glorified, but way less spectacular repeat of “Moulin Rouge.”
Well…I was wrong…boy was I wrong (and thank God for that).
No snooze-factors here. “The Greatest Showman” keeps you on the edge of your seat from the moment it begins through to the final curtain. The cinematics are riveting, colorful, and stimulating. Even the “lower point” of the movie is designed to keep the viewer’s interest.
Since I completely blew it on the “spoiler alerts” in my last review (sorry to my cousin Cory), I will attempt to shroud the outcome in mystery for this one.
The movie follows the life of P.T. (Phineas Taylor) Barnum and his wife Charity from childhood to near middle-age. Though he lives on the crumbs of the upper-crust out of which Charity has been raised, poverty does not break his imaginative spirit and all of the outlandish dreams he has for the two of them for the future, which they both sing about in “A Million Dreams.”
We then watch Barnum slowly build his empire from impossible losses to unbelievable dreams come true. Of course, this Hollywood rendition is a fictional take with many artistic licenses on the real life of P.T. Barnum, but it gives a dazzling glimpse into what it might have been like for him to create his taboo world out of the nothing he started from.
Barnum carefully selects each “piece” of his show to create the biggest bang for the buck. Basically, what are the craziest, weirdest, freakiest, unbelievable things/people/animals/acts we can find? You got one? Great! Let’s put it in the show. He even incorporates an act of elegance by the name of Jenny Lind in an attempt to save his seemingly “classless” reputation, which we learn as we get to know him, is not a fair title at all for a man of integrity.
As the story unfolds, so does the love between two important characters in the film, Phineas’s business partner Philip (Zac Efron) and the light-on-her-feet trapeze artiste Ann Wheeler (Zendaya). The two face many trials in becoming an item (as sung in “Rewrite the Stars,” although the love that grows for one other is true and evident. The movie keeps us guessing what will be their fate until the very end. Will it happen for them? Can they overcome all adversity to be together? You’ll have to see the movie to find out.
When Barnum is on the verge of losing everything, the story takes an unexpected turn…you’re dying to know what that is, aren’t you? You’ll just have to see for yourself.
The movie is not only entertaining, it is meant to enable very valuable points of encouragement for people of all ages; that dreaming never ends, that nothing is impossible, and that a life of unimaginable freedom and blessings is often built on the brokenness of the past.
And it is the facets from the shards of that brokenness that give our futures the “sparkle.”
“The Greatest Showman” is set for digital release March 20 and Blu-ray/DVD April 10.