There’s a predictability to The Greatest Showman that’ll make it feel like you’ve seen this story before. The plot twists you’d expect a million miles away. But that doesn’t make it a bad film.
As the production notes for the film describes, this story is “inspired by the legend and ambitions of America’s original pop-culture impresario, P.T. Barnum, comes an inspirational rags-to-riches tale of a brash dreamer who rose from nothing to prove that anything you can envision is possible and that everyone, no matter how invisible, has a stupendous story worthy of a world-class spectacle.”
I don’t think I’ve smiled as widely as I have for a movie in a while. The predictability of The Greatest Showman doesn’t take away from the fact that this was a story that needed to be told, especially at the seemingly divisive time we live right now.
One of the movie’s main themes is the celebration of oddities or what makes us unique. We’re all a little (or a lot) weird but we don’t always feel comfortable enough to celebrate that. What P.T.’s done, even if it was for profit, was turn the spotlight on those things that make his cast of characters in the circus odd and he unwittingly empowered them to be comfortable with themselves when everyone else would rather have them tucked away from the world. The anthemic “This Is Me” being sung in the film at such a pivotal scene helps hammer home the point that you shouldn’t be afraid to be your full self, no matter what the world might think or say.
It’s a great film to see with children, especially with how it shows P.T. encourages his two girls to dream and not be afraid to go after what they want. It reminds us to not be afraid to dream, take risks, and work hard to pursue what we’ve always wanted. It was driven home during an exciting performance by Barnum and Phillip Carlyle of “The Other Side.” Watching Jackman and Efron play off each other will no doubt entertain you. These two veterans of movie musicals showing us how they clearly haven’t lost their touch in this genre.
Another big theme in The Greatest Showman is love and a “forbidden” one at that. With the film set in the 1870s, the interracial relationship between Phillip and Zendaya’s Anne Wheeler was considered taboo. But the film at least gives us a happy ending when it comes to this couple. Efron and Zendaya were happy to have been able to tell this story, as they’ve said during the press interviews for the movie. While not seen as practical or even realistic for everyone, it’s nice to be reminded of the idea that love in its purest form can conquer prejudices and judgment.
In a world where it seems like we’re constantly at each other’s throats over the biggest and smallest issues, it’s a good time to see a story like this.
The Greatest Showman hits Philippine cinemas on January 31.