Life is peculiar. One moment you’re challenging Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to be a better film, and the next moment you’re praising Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman. What strange twists life takes during the holiday season.
The Greatest Showman is the first time I watched a film and felt like I was actually watching a Broadway show. From the sound to the way the musical scenes were shot, first-time director Michael Gracey made you felt like you were part of the show, and that is the magic of the stage.
Hugh Jackman carries the film as P.T. Barnum, Zac Efron compliments Jackman, and Zendaya is an emerging star. Jackman’s personality as Barnum is intoxicating. No matter what the world throws at him, Barnum is an industry disruptor. It is this element that gives the film a fast pace, as Barnum is like water, and keeps moving forward. The writers of the film (Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon), capture the spirit, Gracey sets up the cast for success, and Jackman unleashes his musical fury.
With all the praise mentioned above, it is the freak show that Barnum puts together that gives the film heart. Sam Humphrey as Tom Thumb owns his screen time, but Keala Settle as the bearded woman demands hers. Ripped from Netflix’s’ House of Cards, Paul Sparks has found his niche as a smug writer/journalist. Sparks plays the theater critic, and the scenes between Jackman and Sparks are riveting, with two actors doing what they do best.
In the world of CGI, the set design in the film is beautiful. The movie boasts an $80+ million budget, and you can see all the work that went into the sets. There is a painted backdrop at the beginning of the film that looked better than 90% of the CGI out there. It also just felt better and wasn’t as jarring as CGI combined with green screen can be at times.
The Greatest Showman is a perfect holiday film as it has something for everyone and family friendly; music, freaks, story, and charisma.