Go see this movie!
By Katelyn Cody
Staff Circus Fan
P.T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth” finds new life again in movie theaters as the story of the circus’ creation is told through music, dance, and the occasional high-flying acrobatic trick. Hugh Jackman captures the charm and charisma required of a great showman and plays Barnum wonderfully. The actor’s Broadway background definitely helped him in this performance. One of my favorite characters was Anne Wheeler (Zendaya). I was absolutely amazed by the stunts she performed, and found myself yet again wishing that I was the least bit flexible and graceful. The duet she shares with Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), “Rewrite the Stars,” is one of my favorite songs from the movie, and definitely one of my favorite scenes. During a recent interview on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Zendaya shared a video of her and Efron colliding while rehearsing their duet.
My least favorite part of the movie was the Jenny Lind storyline. Although I understand the inclusion of this plot point- Barnum’s sponsorship of her American tour demonstrated his ability to take risks, and having Jenny show romantic interest in him added a bit of drama- I just could not get myself interested in her character, and was not the biggest fan of her song, “Never Enough.” I was also disappointed to find out that the actress who played Jenny did not sing her own songs. One of my biggest pet peeves is when actors, especially those who we know can sing, do not do their own singing in movie musicals (I’m looking at you Zac Efron in the first High School Musical movie). There are plenty of other actresses who could have played the part just as well, but also contributed their own singing voice. I wish that the filmmakers had instead taken this time to expand more on the performers in Barnum’s circus. They are what made Barnum’s circus “the greatest show” and deserve the screen time to reflect that. While Settle’s character, Lettie Lutz, performs the most popular song from the show, I don’t think she deserved to be treated as such a minor character. The growth in confidence that she has during “This is Me” is one of the most important parts of the movie’s theme of loving yourself for who you are.
Composers, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, did a remarkable job writing music that would appease both musical fans and non-musical fans alike. Pasek and Paul are amazingly versatile composers who are not confined to one genre of music. The music in the film, while very musical theater-like in style, infuses modern pop music in a way that will appeal to all audience members. Settle astounds audiences with the moving ballad, “This is Me,” a song that has already gained a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. As a Broadway alum, she is no stranger to powerful ballads, notably “I Didn’t Plan It” from Waitress. The duo has enjoyed a lot of mainstream success over the past year with the release of La La Land (for which they won both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award) and Dear Evan Hansen (for which they won a Tony). If you loved The Greatest Showman I highly encourage you to check out the rest of the composers’ work. The film definitely has a distinct Broadway flare to it. In fact, it was even workshopped like a real Broadway show prior to production.
When it all comes down to it, The Greatest Showman is a family friendly film that is entertaining, inspiring and warms the audience members’ hearts. The beautiful music is an added plus that was probably one of the strongest motivators for me to see this movie.