The Greatest Showman Movie Review

The Greatest Showman is a musical dramatization of the life and career of P. T. Barnum and the creation of his “Greatest Show in Earth”.

Before the movie started, Hugh Jackman and the director (I think that’s who it was), thanked us, the audience, for our presence at the movie theatre, saying something to the effect that we had chosen to watch the movie on the large screen as it was intended to be seen. Well … you’re welcome.

And they’re right. The movie would not have been the same on a small screen.

The costumes were stunning, the scenery beautiful, choreography amazing, and the musical score captivating. One of the opening dance scenes was a sweeping number that reminded me of old Hollywood and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

There were CG effects, but they supported the scenes instead of overpowering them.

A strong cast, especially the headliners, made the movie. Hugh Jackman (He can really sing!),  Zendaya (stunning) and Zac Ephron (also stunning) all amped up their on-screen chemistry that brought the story together.

Reality vs. Art

I’ve got to say, though, I found myself wondering how historically true the movie was to actual events, especially in relation to the use of animals and the lineup of “human curiosities” P. T. Barnum featured, such as the bearded lady, the Irish Giant, and the dwarf he dressed as a little general. If you’ve read books like “Water for Elephants” or “The One and Only Ivan”, you know that the circus has a history of not treating people very well and treating animals even worse.

That’s the realist coming out in me.

And if you can get past all that and take the movie for the sheer entertainment value, it’s a great show about Phineas Barnum, a dreamer who started off with nothing and created something extraordinary. It’s not a documentary, not meant to be a history lesson, even if it is “inspired by actual events”. 

Getting back to the pre-movie show of appreciation by the makers of “The Greatest Showman” – I like that they thanked me for being there.

No doubt making a movie like The Greatest Showman was a huge gamble in itself. They certainly faced tremendous obstacles along the way. I thank them for sticking with it, believing in the project, and seeing it through.

The result is a great show in itself.