What is the last movie you saw that was a truly magical experience? For me it was The Greatest Showman. I went with my daughter to see it on the big screen, not expecting much. I was absolutely blown away by the movie, as was my daughter. It is a musical set in the 1870s and inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum and his creation of the circus. I've now watched the film 5 times and will share 11 magical things about this movie below.
1. Hugh Jackman is phenomenal as P.T. Barnum. This might be hard to believe, but this is the first Hugh Jackman movie I've ever seen. I never saw Wolverine, but I do now plan to watch Les Miserables. Hugh is a terrific actor and singer in The Greatest Showman. This movie was a "passion project" for him that took 7 years to bring to fruition. It is clear that this is Hugh's movie and he's 110% into it.
2. Apparently Zac Effron and Zendaya are a big deal with kids these days. :) My daughter loved Zac Effron in the High School Musical movies and loved him in The Greatest Showman. Zendaya is terrific as a trapezist in the film. However, I think Keala Settle, who plays The Bearded Lady in the movie, steals the show. She is incredible.
3. The original music in this movie is so inspirational. While I've now watched the film 5 times, I've listened to the soundtrack in my car probably 25 times. The songs are so well done. They are fun to watch in the movie, and fun to listen to on their own. I've even heard my neighbors (the parents) drive down our street blasting this soundtrack! The Oscar-winning songwriters behind the move La La Land wrote the music for The Greatest Showman. I suppose I might need to watch La La Land now.
4. The movie is a celebration of humanity. There is a theater critic in the movie who hates the circus show, but recognizes that the crowds love it. He says to Barnum late in the movie: "You brought to the stage people of all types, shapes and sizes. I guess another theater critic might even say your show is a celebration of humanity." I would agree.
5. This movie is a cautionary tale of rags to riches and back to rags again. P.T. Barnum starts the movie as a boy in poverty who dreams and works his way up to a mansion, before losing it all due to his unbridled pursuit of fame and fortune. By the end of the movie he learns what's truly important in life (his family), but he almost loses it all in the process. The movie reminds us all that workaholism and pursuit of money and fame are not good trades for your family. P.T. Barnum gained the whole world, but almost lost his soul in the process. Fortunately the movie ends redemptively.
6. The Bearded Lady singing "This is Me" is an incredible centerpiece of the movie. In the middle of the movie the circus cast gets shut out of a high brow party by P.T. Barnum and they walk back to the circus singing a powerful song with the lyrics:
"Well, fire away 'cause today, I won't let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors!)
Yeah, that's what we've become (yeah, that's what we've become!)I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious!"
When they sing the last line the circus cast are in the middle of a raging snowstorm with fans and detractors all around them. It's an incredible movie moment. You've gotta see it.
7. The Greatest Show song in the movie somehow inspires me and reminds me that living our own lives to the full is actually the "greatest show." Sure, a circus or a movie can be fun for a couple of hours. But how much more fun is it to live your life to full? Your life is the greatest show. Not a movie. Not someone else's life. Your life is the greatest show! "It's everything you ever want. It's everything you ever need. And it's here right in front of you. This is where you want to be!"
8. The movie's cinematography is gorgeous. I'm not a big movie buff. My favorite movies are Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, so it is somewhat surprising that this musical grabbed my attention in such a big way. My daughter noted that the transitions are terrific in this movie. She is correct.
9. Some have said that The Greatest Showman might be The Sound of Music for this generation. I have no idea if that will prove to be true, but it's an interesting comparison. I have no doubt that my daughters will watch The Greatest Showman many times over their lives and likely many more times than they'll ever watch The Sound of Music.
10. "The noblest art is that of making others happy." -P.T. Barnum. This quote ends the movie and definitely describes the life of Barnum, the circus (which ironically closed after a 146 year run in 2017, the same year this movie was released), and The Greatest Showman. This movie makes me happy when I watch it, and the soundtrack makes me happy when I listen to it. Noble art, indeed.
11. Interestingly, many critics didn't like this movie. Only 36% of the top critics on the website Rotten Tomatoes liked this movie. However, 87% of 22,500+ viewers on Rotten Tomatoes liked it. I can see how this is a movie that you either get into or you don't. So, if you end up watching this movie because of my strong recommendation here, I apologize if you don't like it. :)
If you've seen The Greatest Showman, would you add any additional takeaways about movie to my list above? Also, what is another movie you've seen that was a magical experience? Please share in the comments section below!
p.s. I plan to blog about Work-Life Happiness weekly in 2018. I'd be honored if you'd subscribe to my blog's emails on my website at: www.mikepritchard.com/subscribe.html