After watching The Greatest Showman four times we’ve concluded that this is by far the best family movie of the year. The acting was authentic, the singing powerful and the story compelling, all elements of a good feature film, but not having to worry about foul language, strong violence, or overtly mature themes made the film worth the fare and repeat viewings. Although a family film and PG rating, parents should be cautioned that there was a scene of heavy drinking, a taboo interracial romance, a kiss that came from “the other” woman and mild violence (protesters burn down the circus and a man slaps a young boy) that is worth talking to the kids about. Despite those objectionable scenes, the film was acceptable for kids 8 and up and teaches about acceptance, self worth, dedication, overcoming fears, pursuing big dreams and loving your neighbor as yourself.
If you haven’t read the headlines, The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American musical film directed by Michael Gracey in his feature directorial debut, and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. The movie stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. Celebrating the birth of show business, the film is an original musical inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the lives of its main attractions. It’s an ancient tale set to contemporary music, bringing a twist to the classic story.
The film takes place in the late 19th century, opening up with P.T. Barnum and his troupe performing a show-stopping number. Barnum flashbacks to his childhood where he and his father, a tailor, work for the Hallett family, and he falls in love with Mr. Hallett’s daughter, Charity. Although Charity goes away to school, she and Barnum keep in touch through love letters then meet again when they become adults. The pair eventually marry and raise two daughters, Caroline and Helen, in New York City. Although Charity is satisfied with her modest life, Barnum has always had big dreams and desires to provide a lot more for his family.
After losing his job, Barnum swindles the bank into giving him a loan to buy a museum in downtown Manhattan where he showcases wax figures. Sales are sluggish so his daughters suggest displaying live acts. Barnum searches for unique performers and eventually ticket sales boost despite protests and negative reviews. Barnum renames his endeavor Barnum’s Circus, and he and his team continue to perform energetic shows that bring larger audiences. Barnum tries to salvage his reputation with the upper class so he works with playwright, Phillip Carlyle. Carlyle arranges a meeting with Barnum and his troupe to meet Queen Victoria and this is where Barnum meets Jenny Lind, a famous Swedish singer. Barnum convinces Lind to perform in America, promising to take her career to new heights. As her manager, Barnum takes Lind around the world as she performs for and impress the upper echelon.
Back at the circus, Carlyle, falls in love with Anne Wheeler, an African-American trapeze artist. Despite blatant racism from the outside world, including Carlyle’s high-society parents, the pair can’t hide their mutual attraction, however, due to mounting obvious racial tension, the pair don’t pursue their feelings. Meanwhile, as Barnum and Lind travel the globe he distances himself from the circus. Lind develops feelings for Barnum and makes advances but he rejects them. Lind is furious, and calls off the rest of the tour. During her last show she brings Barnum to the stage and kisses him, a perfect moment for photographers to snap away.
Barnum returns home to find his circus on fire, literally. Carlyle does not see Anne safely outside so he runs into the fiery building to try and find her, not realizing she safely made it out. Everyone is accounted for except Carlyle and Barnum heroically goes in and saves his friend. This moment solidifies the love that Anne feels for Carlyle and in the hospital she kisses him to seal their love.
After the circus is burned down, Barnum picks up a newspaper to see that he and Lind are on the front page, sharing a kiss. He runs home, only to see his wife and kids packing up to leave. He begs Charity to stay but to no avail. He literally has lost everything. He retreats to a local bar where his troupe find him and convince him that they are family and he should not give up. Barnum leaves to find Charity and they agree to mend their relationship. A short time later, Barnum is faced with the difficulty of rebuilding the circus. Surprisingly, Carlyle steps in and offers to use his circus earnings to help rebuild, with the condition that they are now partners. Barnum accepts and rebuilds it as an open-air tent circus. The end of the movie concludes just as powerfully as it began as “The Greatest Showman” song is reprised.
The film was released in the United States on December 20, 2017, by 20th Century Fox and so far has grossed over $434 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest grossing live-action musical of all time. The Greatest Showman has been nominated 26 times, with 8 wins, including a Golden Globe win for Best Original Song for “This is Me,” and Best Action and Adventure Film win by Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, USA.
This movie is too good to miss. The buzz around it started off slowly, but it’s quickly grown a strong following. We definitely recommend this film to family’s everywhere!
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