Okay, let’s be honest here. PT Barnum, the man this movie is about, was pretty problematic. The whole basis of his career was when he purchased an 80 year old slave, named Joice Heth, and passed her off as the 100+ year old nanny to George Washington. Then, to make matters even worse, when she died he made her autopsy a public event and sold tickets to it. Let’s also not forget one of his more famous hoaxes, the mermaid that actually was just the top half of a monkey sewn onto the bottom half of a fish. And I won’t even begin to go into how poorly animals in the circus were treated at the time.
Problems aside, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love a good musical. And with this all star cast of Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya, I knew that I would see this film regardless of the sordid past it was based on. Overall it was cute. The musical numbers were catchy and the dancing was great. My favorite song was probably This Is Me. I even caught myself tapping my foot along in the theater. I just wish they focused a bit more on the circus characters. Honestly, the movie needed to be a bit longer. It felt rushed and underdeveloped. The love story between Zac Efron and Zendaya’s characters didn’t make much sense to the story. It seemed like it was supposed to showcase the evolution of Zac Efron’s character but we don’t actually know enough about him to make it feel like an authentic change. The “scandal” between PT Barnum and Jenny Lind was pretty ridiculous and unnecessary. There wasn’t any chemistry between them whatsoever and then in the next moment she is basically proclaiming her love for him. I’m still shaking my head.
This movie is the ultimate holiday feel good movie. Not very deep or moving, but cute and great for the kiddos. Don’t go in expecting much and you probably will enjoy yourself.