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The Greatest Showman on Repeat
By Bernie Sauer
Even though I adore a classic like The Wizard of Oz (1939) or The Sound of Music (1965), commend Les Miserables (2012) for its groundbreaking technical achievements, and praise postmodern movie musical revivals like The Phantom of the Opera (2004) or Rent (2005), I have probably seen The Greatest Showman more than any of these musicals combined.
The Greatest Showman is solid, reliable entertainment for the very sake of a short movie break, a longer escape with popcorn in the dark, or for just hitting play to energetic background music in the house while taking quick glances at the images on the screen (the perfect musical for cleaning the house, doing the dishes, or bouncing a newborn in a chair).
Every song is a catchy, awe-inspiring hit, every choreography number is entrancing, and the story – albeit extremely fictional in its references to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – is a humble ode to following your dreams and accepting others for who they are on the outside and the inside. As I mention over and over again in my reviews, I watch movies for the feelings, not the facts. Yes, we all know the real Barnum was an exploitative politician and prick businessman, but these particulars wouldn’t make for a fun musical, now would they? (Plus, if you’re going to be that nit-picky with cinematic facts, then you would have to discredit The Sound of Music’s backstory and take away the smiles of our upbringing.)
This is an airtight, seamless, and remarkably joyful musical production. Hugh Jackman is an astounding performer, defying age and igniting hope in youngsters and adults alike with that million-dollar smile.
Zac Efron matches up in talent, and along with Keala Settle, Zendaya, and Michelle Williams, the vocals rock the house as both a soundtrack in your AirPods or blasted through the windows of your car or house.
The cynics out there can continue misconstruing the movie’s message all they want. I’m not sure how they cannot hear the ballad against shame in the power hit, “This Is Me.” I don’t know how they cannot acknowledge the possibilities of forgiveness and transformation in “Rewrite the Stars.” It’s a choice, I guess, but the Barnum in this original movie musical embraces acceptance, no matter how imperfectly human you are.
The Greatest Showman is a “feel good” of the decade if you want it to be.
Personally, it is my go-to when I’m feeling down, and I continue to discover something new with each viewing.
You can’t ask for more in a movie, a musical, or an experience.
Thank you for reading and please let me know what your favorite movie musical is!