This is the greatest show you will see all season. The songs, the choreography, and of course, the acting went into making this movie hard to forget. I want to disclaim that I am a simple moviegoer that has not degree in film or any knowledge in dance or music, but this is my opinion on Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman.
The movie is about P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. It showcases the highs and lows in the life of Hugh Jackman’s Phineas Taylor Barnum. However, it was much more than that.
Now, going into it, I knew this was not going to be a documentary. And I did not want one. I had seen the trailer too many times to count, and I knew I needed to see it.
Let us start off with the music. Wow, what can I say beyond you will never be able to remember a time you showered or got in your car without “The Other Side” sung by Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron’s characters in the movie. Not to mention how absolutely breathless Loren Allred (AKA the actual singing voice of actress Rebecca Ferguson’s Jenny Lind) left you with her song “Never Enough”.
The music was not only a filler, but a great instrument used to move the plot along and develop the characters even more. We see the plot move along in all the songs, but my personal favorite way this technique is used is in the beginning of Jackman and Michelle Williams’s characters’ love story with the song, “A Million Dreams.” This song carries movie P.T. Burnam and his wife, Charity, from the budding of their relationship to moving in together to having their daughters. It is an emotional transition scene and song that leaves you rooting for the couple and ready for the rest of the movie. A song that truly shows strong character development is the song “This is Me” credited to Keala Settle and the Greatest Showman Ensemble. We see the once-ostracized ‘Bearded Lady’ and the other ‘freaks’ suddenly shed their insecurities and stand together against people that try and tear them down. This song has true empowerment vibes and will leave you inspired to be confident in yourself. Not to mention, a particularly power moment between Zac Efron and Zendaya’s characters. We cannot forget about their song, either. “Rewrite the Stars” is a bittersweet song that makes you fall in love while also ripping you apart. The duet between the two brings tears and hope to you—all at once.
Speaking of “Rewrite the Stars,” the Greatest Showman has some of the best choreography that I have personally seen in any movie. Particularly in this scene, seemingly ill-fated Phillip Carlyle (Efron) and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) showcase a beautiful dance number in which acrobatics are involved and the two cannot seem to decide if they want each other or must keep their distance. This whole scene just reveals love and emotion through the dance and song. You are not able to look away, as they fly through the air and tempt you to believe they are inches away from a kiss.
Another really amazing thing about the dance numbers are they are very satisfying to watch. The beat matches up with the dance moves, and it is hard to convince yourself that you should not dance in a theater full of people. This is the case for the song “From Now On.” We see Barnum’s change of heart within this number, but the main thing is the fact that people within the movie that have yet to show off, get to showcase their dancing abilities. This gets you all hyped up, and their movement has such rhythm to it, you end up stomping your legs and tapping your arm rests.
One of the characters (Radu Spinghel’s O’Clancy) beats his fists up against the ceiling in time with the bass. It is a moment that catches your attention and holds it. This is also true for the dance number between Efron, Jackman and their very attentive bartender. They all three sync up so well that every scarf toss and glass slide hits every corresponding note. The intensity of scenes is revved up by the insane notice to movement details. Every time a dance number began, you could not help but get excited. The actors and dancers gave it their all.
The acting by the entire cast was phenomenal. There are so many emotional scenes within this movie that it is hard not to get invested. The actors make it easy to lose yourself within the story. You believe in their hope and their pain. The acting makes you believe the characters’ stories are unfolding right before you. I had high hopes for Jackman, Efron, Zendaya and Williams going into this movie. However, I was pleasantly blown away by the children actors and all the other supporting characters. Settle’s Lettie broke my heart, but empowered me to be brave. W.D. Wheeler (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) made me believe that the sibling love between him and Zendaya was real. Sam Humphrey’s interpretation of Tom Thumb was sassy and had me cheering for him throughout the movie. All of them had me invested in their story lines and their relationships. They all fit so well together.
This movie resurrected my love of movies. I had become disappointed with the humdrum of sequels, remakes and just downright awful motion pictures over the past couple of months. The Greatest Showman is unique, original and something I could watch repeatedly and never tire of it. I give this movie a 10/10 rating on the Alena scale of movie magic. You should not only see it once, but as many times as you can.