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The Greatest Showman: Movie Review


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Nevie Smith ’19, Contributor

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” -P.T. Barnum

20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman hit theaters in late December and has not stopped dominating movie theatres across America since. The film includes some of Hollywood’s biggest names, such as Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. These stars, along with a stellar supporting cast, shine on the big screen, telling the creation story of one of America’s first forms of entertainment: the circus. The musical shares the trials and tribulations business and showman P.T. Barnum (Jackman) went through while creating the modern day American icon in New York City. Filled with the powerful and inspiring music by Tony and Oscar Award-winning composers Pasek and Paul, the film’s soundtrack tells the story beautifully and features some of today’s best voices in the business, and includes songs like “The Greatest Show,” “Rewrite the Stars,” and the Golden Globe award-winning “This is Me.”

The Greatest Showman has been praised by reviewers all over the country, and received multiple nominations for the cast’s unforgettable performance. Not only did the movie tell the story of the first circus, but it also showed the way Barnum included many of New York City’s forgotten: the “different” and “special” people who had never had a place in society before the circus. This film highlighted some of the real Barnum’s most famous and featured performers, including a bearded woman, trapeze artists, and a completely tattooed man.

While The Greatest Showman is not completely accurate, many reviewers are still supporting the story and its lesson of inclusion. Common Sense Media’s Sandia Angulo Chen writes, “Exuberant performances propel this musical biopic, which isn’t perfect but does occasionally delight thanks to its stellar cast, led by the inimitable Jackman… It’s best to appreciate the film as a flashy, colorful Broadway show, where the ‘book’ is less important than the musical numbers.” The film does romanticize the not-so-beautiful story of the original circus, but in doing so provides a fantastic lesson in inclusion that every viewer can learn from. Tackling the significant 19th century issues of racism and exclusion, The Greatest Showman reveals some of the most important aspects of love, life, and being true to one’s self. And, even though it does not show the absolute truth about entrepreneur P.T. Barnum and his life, the powerful and unforgettable music, life lessons, and story make the film truly powerful.

I personally cannot get the songs out of my head and encourage everyone to go see this film. Even if this kind of musical or fantasy is not your thing, there is something for everyone to love in this movie. Not only does the cast provide a stunning performance throughout the entire movie, but The Greatest Showman is also a story bigger than the circus, and teaches everyone to be their own true unique selves.

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The Greatest Showman: Movie Review