I am a firm believer that the world would be a better place if most things were told through song and dance. I know that is a stupid idea, but there is something about picturing that in my head that just makes me happy. I don’t hide the fact that I love musicals and that probably why I would ever think such a thought. It is these movies that I find myself smiling the entire time, for they really are my happy place. So, needless to say I was pretty excited to hear about “The Greatest Showman” and boy did it not let me down.
If you are talking about putting on the greatest show on earth, I still think of only one man, P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), but he didn’t always do that. A young Barnum lived a life on the streets, as he was a boy who had an imagination but little beyond that. Barnum always had grand aspirations including the wooing of a well to do family’s daughter Charity (Michelle Williams), with whom he shared a connection with. One that was so strong that she left her life of comfort for uncertainly as Barnum and their two daughters were always going to be enough for her. P.T. though came up with an idea after losing his job and searched for unique people who had been cast from everyday life to be put on a stage for all the world to see. Soon the people of New York City accept these people, not as their equals but as entertainers as Barnum’s show becomes a success. It is that beginning that paves the way for the birth of the greatest show on earth told in the only way it deserves.
When it comes to telling the stories of beginnings it is how they are told that matters so much. While “The Greatest Showman” is taking some creative liberties if you consider who the film is about, it makes perfect sense in doing so. What also works really well is in the telling this story is done in a true showmanship way, that being as a musical. With a screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon, first time director Michael Gracey channels Baz Luhrmann with the direction he goes in. While it lacks the true feel of a Luhrmann film, you can’t help of think of “Moulin Rouge” more than a few times. Here the screenplay matters, you don’t come to a musical to hear people talk, you want them to bring their emotions out in a song to mover the story along. The music in “The Greatest Showman” is the backbone of this film and will have you seeking out the soundtrack to play whenever your inner show person feels the need to be released.
The songs are fantastic and with the perfect cast lead by Jackman and Zach Efron singing them, it is hard not to love them. I am not going to say I loved this movie, but I did love the time I had watching it. The smile never left my face and I did put the soundtrack on as I drove home from the theater. This is the movie P.T. Barnum deserves for his story and while there are not too many truths in it about him, it feels honest and truly sings from the heart for the greatest showman on earth.