The Greatest Showman: A Romance With ‘Stars’ in its Eyes


Sometimes the box office films that are most talked about and dubbed as “perfect” are the ones I like to stay away from. The Greatest Showman is certainly one of those films that the Twitterverse considered “great.” Although I did wish to see it, time passed, and I didn’t get the chance. Now, months later, one Saturday night, I settled in to discover what all the fuss was about.

The Greatest Showman (2017) Film Review

Dreams is what keeps young Phineas T. Barnum alive. He comes from a humble home with a father who earns an honest living as a tailor. Phineas’ greatest mistake is falling in love with a golden-haired girl far above his station. Despite her father’s best efforts to keep them apart, upon her return from boarding school, Phineas is there, heart in hand.

Together, Phineas (Hugh Jackman) and Charity (Michelle Williams) strike out to make these dreams come true.

the greatest showman

Years pass and though they live in modest surroundings, they make do with a loving household that includes their two daughters. But something is missing. Phineas revisits his dreams when his entire office is fired. This time, he’s not going to give up. He creates a successful “circus” empire that draws massive crowds, but before he can truly appreciate the wonder of his imagination, into his life walks the mesmerizing Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson).

As is so often the case with my movie-watching experiences, I am not one of the “popular kids” when it comes to seeing this film. Ideally I’d have seen it in theaters, but for no reason at all, I never went. The next best thing would have been to watch it the week it released to DVD. I did pick up a copy on DVD, instead of popping it in the disc tray, it gathered dust. Until now. Now, I finally let myself be immersed in the world I’d heard so many raves about. On one hand it 100% lives up to its name. On another, I cannot help but feel some sense that the story cheats viewers with its treatment of this otherwise mesmerizing story.

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Much as I would like to go deeper into what disappoints me, I won’t because I’d much rather focus on what I do love about the film. Yes, I do love much about it. From the opening frame, the story draws you into every faucet of what’s going on. Never have I seen such masterfully choreographed musical numbers. This may seem presumptuous considering all of the great musicals there are, but it’s true. What it is about these sequences that speak to the viewer, I cannot pin down. But something works in an effortless manner. Everything clicks, snaps and twirls in the right spaces and places.

A musical is a genre I have to be in the right mood for. There’s something about this one that makes me feel as if I can watch it anytime, and it’d make me happy. Everything is classy and perfect. From the staging to the vocals, the songs and numbers work together as one. Also, I think I can honestly say, I’ve never seen a musical number tell a story as well as the opening sequence of The Greatest Showman does. Plus, I dare you not to be enchanted like never before by the “grand” romance sequence in this film.

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the greatest showman

Of course, helping these numbers along is the mastery of the cast. Whether it’s veterans like Jackman and Williams or newcomers (in comparison) like Zac Efron, everyone is a star, and they all shine. From the young Barnum daughters to Zendaya (who also plays a starring role), I really cannot imagine a greater cast list. The producers and director pull together magic with and from these names, and complete the picture with the costumes and sets. They make us believe in their stories, and that’s something not to be taken for movie-magic granted.

I’m actually glad I watched this so far removed from all of the comments and excitement. It put distance between me and the hype, which I don’t feel is ever bad. The starry eyes of the mass appreciation may have fizzled, but seeing this for the first time still leaves an impression.

If you want something to make you smile, this might be the film for you. The music is stunning albeit very contemporary, and the story, though it hits some valleys, is uplifting. It’s the sort of experience we never knew we needed, but instantly recognize as a cinematic kindred spirit. If you happen to be like me, and have skipped out on seeing The Greatest Showman, consider picking up a copy. It truly is a great show.

THROWBACK #PERIODDRAMA REVIEW: The Greatest Showman (2017): A #Romance With 'Stars' in its Eyes Click To Tweet

Content: with a PG rating, ‘Showman’ really contains nothing offensive. There is some thematic elements, but overall, it’s family safe.

The Greatest Showman - A Romance With 'Stars' in its Eyes

Photos: 20th Century Fox

ps: please excuse the “disorder.” you can read more about Finding Wonderland’s changes, new follow options and why archive posts are a mess in my “Disorder + Feedback” post!

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Love this film and loved reading your fresh take on it. :) I’m actually a little curious about your disappointment in the story treatment and how you felt it “cheated” viewers. And even if you don’t want to detail that here, is it possible that the choices they did make in telling the story led to more cross-generational popularity of the film than if they’d gone in a different direction. I’ve certainly read complaints about the film’s storyline, that the characters were thinly drawn, that it could have focused more on the “oddities” than Barnum and his problems, or that Barnum’s redemption in the end was not quite deserved, etc etc. Curious about your thoughts and if they are along those lines or something else.

    1. Hi, Susan! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the review. I appreciate that and that you left a comment. :)

      To be honest, I don’t remember what I felt “cheated” out of. It saw this film MONTHS ago, and wrote the review after seeing it. In fact, I thought I’d long ago published the review only to check my archives and see that I’d forgotten to share the review. That said, I don’t remember having any trouble with Barnum’s second chance, and am glad for it, because at his core he IS a good man (and I wanted him to find that optimistic man again), and I’m always one for a happy end. I’d say part of my issue is with the story lines. I do tend to have a “thing” about plots that feel disingenuous in terms of the character arcs, especially when it’s in a film that’s a “grand scale,” box office movie. But overall, I was mesmerized by the movie, and will certainly re-watch it! :)

      1. Got it, thanks for replying. Sometimes things can feel jammed into a story just to fulfill some plot point. Glad you loved the film. It’s certainly a feel-good story, and the joy of the music is inescapable.

  2. I tend to stay away from movies that get a lot of a hype. I had no interest in this one, but was on a long flight and was looking for something to watch. So I gave this a try and I LOVED it! It surprised me so much!

    1. SO glad you liked this one, Becky; this one would be a great way to better enjoy a long flight. :) I thought it was delightful, and of course, there’s a really solid cast, too.

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