The Greatest Showman 

What a delight.

The story of P.T Barnum. 

No.

A story of P.T Barnum. 

From his humble beginnings as a tailor’s assistant to global fame, wealth and a place in history, the life story of Barnum is quite the tale.  Director Michael Gracey is utterly disinterested in the truth or in presenting a biopic.  Instead he uses the bones of the Barnum story to give us something much more in keeping with the spirit of the man.

Hugh Jackman plays Barnum and throws himself into the role with so much energy, joy and passion that, even from the distance imposed by the projected image, makes you feel as though Barnum himself is taking you by the hand and guiding you through the story. 

Michelle Williams plays Barnum’s loyal and loving wife, Charity…a girl from a wealthy family who gives it all up for love.  I don’t care how cliched that sounds because Williams looks to be genuinely in love with Jackman.   Damn my play-doh heart…I love a bit of love!

When Barnum falls on hard times he ropes in socialite Phillip Carlyle played by Zac Effron.  Effron is a throwback to another era…a proper Hollywood star.  He’s good looking, he’s got great hair, he can sing and he can dance.  What’s not to adore?

Of course the real heart of the story is the gang of “freaks” that Barnum thrusts into the spotlight.  A bearded lady, a dog boy, “Siamese twins” and a beautiful young black girl he puts front and centre of his show as a trapeze artist.   It’s a celebration of the human spirit and of the need to embrace who we are. 

Now a confession.

I didn’t rate “La La Land”.  It left me a bit underwhelmed.  It was…OK.  I couldn’t sing a song from it and I certainly didn’t feel myself being lifted up out of my seat to join in with the dance routines…which is exactly what a great musical should do to you.

“The Greatest Showman” has a great pop soundtrack, fabulous dance routines and costumes that are worthy of an Oscar nod.  I took my five year old daughter to see it with me and she was out of her seat during the opening number…dancing and grinning like a loon.  That happened during every song.  Then at the films end she actually cheered.

“The Greatest Showman” is not cinema as art.  It isn’t dark.  It’s not working on multiple levels.  It isn’t complex.  

It’s entertaining.  It’s uplifting.  It makes your heart beat a little louder and a little faster.  It’s simply great fun.  Treat yourself and get down to the circus.

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