The Greatest Showman Review
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In May of 2017, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed its final show. The circus’s story certainly had an unhappy ending—but a story of its uncertain beginning and its controversial rise in popularity is told in the lively and inspiring musical The Greatest Showman.

The Greatest Showman was inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman), who fought his way from the streets to the spotlight. With the support of his wife, Charity (Michelle Williams), and their two daughters, he purchases Barnum’s American Museum of Curiosity and sets out to entertain the people of New York with wax figures and other wonders. But it isn’t until he brings a group of unusual men and women together for a show of human oddities that he begins drawing crowds. And as his so-called “circus” grows in popularity, he struggles to be accepted as a true artist and performer—not just a fraud.

This musical rags to riches story is a true crowd-pleaser. It’s splashed with vibrant colors that brighten up the period touches. It’s loaded with musical numbers by the lyricists behind La La Land—music that will make you want to sing along (which is why there’s a singalong version included on the Blu-ray release). And it tells a story that will inspire you to proud to be you—no matter who you may be.

The journey here is certainly an emotional one. As a young boy, Barnum finds himself alone on the streets—and his fight for survival is just the beginning of his story. Even as an adult, he continues to face loss and hardships that threaten to put him and his family back on the streets. But he battles through—and he does it all with a positive attitude and a gleaming smile on his face.

Jackman’s Barnum is a remarkably flawed by wildly entertaining character. Though he’s all about smoke and mirrors—about appearances and ticket sales—he’s so dynamic that you’ll want to buy whatever he’s selling. And, despite his shortcomings, you’ll still want to see him come out on top in the end.

Of course, it doesn’t take a whole lot of searching to find that the story here takes full advantage of its artistic license. This isn’t really how the story went—but the real story probably wouldn’t have audiences cheering quite like the movie does. So while it won’t get any bonus points for its historical accuracy, it makes up for it in entertainment value.

If you’re looking for an accurate telling of Barnum’s story, this isn’t it. It isn’t particularly strong in substance or precision. But when it comes to drama and style and heart-swelling inspiration, The Greatest Showman puts on one rousing show.

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