By Khaleel Herbert
The Greatest Showman is a whimsical thrill-ride celebrating humanity of all shapes, sizes and dreams.
Phineas Taylor Barnum (Hugh Jackman) grew up the son of a tailor, inferior to most around him especially his father’s most important clients, the Hallett’s. Barnum falls for their daughter, Charity (Michelle Williams) and they move into a place of their own, where they raise two daughters (Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely).
When Barnum is laid off his job due to bankruptcy, he vows to follow his dreams. He gets a loan from the local bank to open a museum of stuffed animals. Upon his daughters’ suggestion, Barnum recruits peculiar characters from a bearded woman (Keala Settle) to a boy who looks like a dog (Luciano Acuna Jr.). He even takes a brother-sister duo who swings on the trapeze (Zendaya and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Ticket sales skyrocket and people are fascinated by the various acts.
The overflowing success brings a trip to meet Queen Victoria (Gayle Rankin), a new house, and a new business partner, Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron). Barnum also scores a touring gig across America with the famous European opera singer Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). But the success swells to the point where Barnum is never satisfied and his quest for fame becomes a quest for greed.
The Greatest Showman lives up to its name. When I heard the lyricists behind the songs were Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, I was hesitant on seeing this flick…They were the monsters that created that God-awful La La Land in 2016. The Greatest Showman surpassed La La Land by a landslide. The film does not hold its momentum by the music and dances alone. The story, although it may or may not be historically accurate, is a story all people can relate to–the dreamers and the people society looks down upon because they look or act different.
Jackman’s pipes are harmonious and joyful. You can hear the emotion in his voice when he sings, like his performance as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. In a scene where Zac Efron and Zendaya sing together they act natural because their musical and dancing chops come from Disney Channel (remember Efron’s High School Musical films and Zendaya’s Shake it Up?) Michelle Williams is the loving, devoted wife who loves Barnun waaaaaay before the riches, similar to her role alongside James Franco in Oz the Great and Powerful.
Keala Settle gives amazing vocals. She and the rest of the cast deserved that Best Original Song Golden Globe.
The Greatest Showman is a great show and intriguing from start to finish like 2012’s Les Misérables and the classic Dirty Dancing and Grease musicals. It’s fun for the whole family and rings in 2018 on a positive note.
Studio: 20th Century Fox (1hr. 45 min)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Rebecca Ferguson, Keala Settle, Cameron Seely, Austyn Johnson
Director: Michael Gracey
Story: The musical story of Phineas Taylor Barnum who started the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Final Score: A