| 03.18.2018

High School Musical 2.0 — “The Greatest Showman” puts on the greatest show


When I first saw the trailer for “The Greatest Showman” in the fall, I was a bit skeptical. I have never been one for musicals, unless it pertains to “High School Musical” of course, and a movie titled “The Greatest Showman” is bound to have some pretty high expectations. However, after seeing the film it was clear the movie lived far beyond any of my expectations. 

The movie tells the unique tale of Phineas Taylor Barnum, more commonly known as P.T. Barnum — founder of Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1871. The film introduces Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman, as a lower-class child, who desperately hopes to unite with his childhood love Charity, played by Michelle Williams. Barnum and Charity marry and raise two children, all while financial hardships continue to strike the family.

In hopes to design the life he promised Charity and raise money to support his family in 19th-century New York, Barnum opens a museum of curiosity, which sparked the foundation for what would soon become the circus.

Barnum locates every outcast, outsider and oddity in New York and showcases their unique characteristics in his circus and the crowds love it, with the exception of a few protesters. Bringing together people of all different shapes, sizes and colors is what one critic in the film calls “an act of humanity,” — the type of humanity and inclusiveness we need in our current political climate. From a bearded lady to tattooed men, Barnum’s circus became a great success, which ultimately brought him fame and fortune.

In addition to such an intriguing storyline, “The Greatest Showman” is composed of various big-name actors and actresses including Jackman, Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya.

Apart from Jackman’s usual role as Wolverine in the X-Men series or his more recent film “Logan,” his charisma and ability to portray “The Greatest Showman” shines through alongside Williams, who both share an undoubted chemistry.

My ten-year-old self rejoiced at what I like to call “High School Musical 2.0,” as Efron sings and sways on the big screen, similar to his role as Troy in the Disney Channel movies. Efron and Zendaya, both Disney Channel graduates, play star-crossed lovers whose romance is both enchanting and irresistible. Although Zendaya isn’t exactly Gabriella, I’ll take it.

Some audiences, however, did not rave at the storyline when it came to historical inaccuracies about Barnum’s troubling past. According to The Guardian, “Barnum was more interested in exploiting people than empowering them.” Yet, even though Barnum was portrayed differently in the film, the entertainment aspect outweighed these slight historical inaccuracies.

Running at nearly two hours, “The Greatest Showman” intertwines just the right amount of contemporary dance and song with a touch of historic 19th century.

Beautifully casted and diligently put together with each and every stunning costume, choreographed dance and song, musical lover or not, audiences of all ages should take the time to embrace all of the creativity and talent “The Greatest Showman” has to offer.

Savannah Cardon can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @savannahlcardon

Related Posts
  1. Loved this review. I’ve seen the film so far 3 times and am seeing it again on Sunday.

  2. Yesss so glad you enjoyed it. You looked beyond the historical in accuracies and I’m really glad you did. I’ve seen the movie 5 times as of now!