“The Greatest Showman” is a musical that gives a broad overview of P.T. Barnum’s rise to fame through his now world famous circus, from his start as the son of a tailor and meeting the woman whom stole his heart as a child to his drive to provide her the world. Hugh Jackman (Logan) portrays the charismatic P. T. Barnum, and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) as the woman who grounds him, Charity Barnum. Zac Efron, (High School Musical) as apprentice Phillip Carlyle and Paul Sparks (House of Cards) as journalist James Gordon Bennett make good counter points to Barnum’s flights of fancy. Keala Settle (Ricki and the Flash) does an outstanding job as The Bearded Lady. Her voice is amazing and the strength she portrays, while maintaining a caring heart is a “celebration of humanity.” It is easy to see why the Ms. Settle-led number “This is Me” is an early frontrunner for Best Original Song with multiple nominations already, including a Golden Globe.
The costuming and set design does match the time period, while the music and chorography are definitely more modern. Visually, the use of stopping the surrounding movement to bring focus on one person and then all action resumes does add an almost magical quality. Some of the musical numbers flow well with the story while others are more of a music video break in the movie to help achieve the runtime of 105 min. One of the highlights combining these elements is a number, featuring Zac Efron and Zendaya (Spider-man: Homecoming), whose aerial skills that made me want to be one of the women who “flew through the air” at the circus. This is a family friendly movie, great for an early day or matinee outing.