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The Greatest Showman

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

In this world of constant information, it can be hard to understand why showman P.T. Barnum was ever a success.

Greatest ShowmanHe relied on society’s fascination with anyone and everyone who was ‘different.’ He created exhibits and shows of what people wanted to see. He made money and lost money and made it again by taking phenomenal risks.

And that is only what is covered in the movie The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum. This movie covers the time that Barnum created his American Museum, his live performances, and the tour with Jenny Lind. We are thoroughly in the mid1800s without mention of the Civil War or Barmun’s abolitionist or temperance activities.

I hate to break it to you but this is not a documentary or bio pic looking to be accurate.

Instead, we get an action packed, musically driven story that hilights Barnum’s desire to make money anyway he can. The whys are the usual reasons that propel anyone to succeed. Barnum adds to this by being willing to risk everything all of the time – his home, his properties, his non-existent fleet of trains.

We also see that he is a brilliant promoter. He knows how to get people to his shows, how to publicize his shows, how to keep people coming into the door. All of this despite the protesters and the angry mob who do not want the freaks on display because freaks need to stay hidden at all times.

Greatest Showman - castThe music is not fitting with the times, instead it has a modern pop and hip-hop vibe. This is Me was nominated for an Oscar and is the big song of the movie as the Barnum show cast sings it with dignity when they become more open about who they are.

The dance sequences are incredible as well. Based on Broadway hip-hop spectacular and Busby Berkley views from the top, we see how Barnum is the center of the show. He wants to be the center, he wants to drive the show, he wants to be the one who says ‘look at this, you have never seen this before.’

Hugh Jackman is great in this movie because he encompasses the hope of a man who has failed before, he is a risk taker, and he is a pure raconteur constantly re-inventing himself with each new venture. Gone is the weariness that we saw in his role as Wolverine; instead we get a man hungry for success who never losses his lust for life. Michelle Williams plays his wife with her own ethereal style. It is something she can do in her sleep and yet I never get tired of watching her as her husband takes them from poverty to riches and down again.

Greatest Showman - Zac and ZendayaBut credit must go the rest of the cast including Keala Settle who plays the Bearded Woman, Lettie Lutz. Rebecca Ferguson is impressive as the legendary Jenny Lind. Zac Efron and Zendaya bring life to their roles as star crossed lovers in a time that did not allow racially-mixed couples. Their performances, singing, and dancing added spark to many scenes.

Not everyone is going to like this movie. But for those who love the musical genre, this makes a great spectacular to add to your collection.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

Have you ever been anticipating a new movie but then the critics rip it apart, making you doubt if that movie is worth your time?

 

I was feeling that way about Oz: The Great and Powerful. This prequel to The Wizard of Oz received some incredibly bad reviews. It took a while for positive reviews to trickle out.

 

Poster image from IMDb.com

Poster image from IMDb.com

In the case of this movie, I was not finding anyone who liked it before hand. Only after the movie opened did friends start telling me what they thought. This was combined with the incredible box office numbers the movie was pulling in. It made me wonder if the critics knew what they were talking about or if families were hungry for a good movie.

 

Now that our family has seen the movie, I want to say it is a little of both.

 

The story is about how the Wizard comes to the Land of Oz, how his arrival was foretold by the late king and that his arrival would mean freedom for the people of Oz. But the man who arrives is perhaps not the one who was expected.

 

This was a beautifully photographed movie. The colors are rich, deep, enthralling. I was drawn in to the movie and did not realize time had passed.

 

Yet, it takes something more than rich backgrounds and incredible sets. It takes more than groups of people similar to the movie we remember that this one is connected.

 

After all, there are many details that foreshadow the movie we remember. The yellow brick road is there along with flying monkeys and munchkins. The poppy fields and straw men and a lion all make their appearance.

 

That is when James Franco must step up to make this story his and not a remembrance piece. He must play this con man with truth and conviction along with something up the sleeve that will trick even those he is working to save.

 

Then there are the three witches: Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz. These women are at odds with each other in regards to the king’s death – who was poisoned. When this mysterious person comes to their land, he has to figure out who is evil and who is good. And he has to figure out which of these women know the truth about him.

 

As for the critics, I realize some of what they said was true, that some of the performances were bland. However, one should never mistake bland with simple because there are some deep thoughts in this movie. Some also stated that Franco was terribly miscast but I thought he was perfect as the con man looking for something more.

 

I know that I want to see this movie again. I want to watch for the things I missed. I know my kids loved the movie and barely made a peep because they were so enthralled. If there was a moment that might have been too scary, it was when the evil flying monkeys made their appearance. That said, I thought it was one of those few good family movies that all ages could enjoy with tidbits for the adults and bits for the kids.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.