When my wife wanted to go watch The Greatest Showman on December 23rd, I was agreeable, but it wouldn’t have been my first pic. But then again, the arrogant side of me had moments earlier been griping about the sad selection of films in 2017. So why not see Hugh Jackman’s latest?
So incredibly glad we went.
The Greatest Showman is literally the best film I’ve seen in a very long time. For me — notice the subjectivity — it annihilated other 2017 selections like Baby Driver, Wonder Woman and Logan. Just freaking blew them off the map.
If you haven’t seen it, do not wait for it to show up in your iTunes queue. PLEASE! For the love of the art, watch this one on the big screen. You’ll be so happy you did. And if you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman, stop reading right here.
The Greatest Showman is the best film of 2017.
So what was good? Everything. But let’s forget the stunning music, impeccable acting and breathtaking visuals. Let’s talk story.
We meet Barnum as a lad whose dreams crash against the sad walls of a servant’s existence. The American dream was alive in his heart, but the chains of reality held him tightly. But little Barnum’s heart eventually broke those chains. The greatest heroes of history are the ones who didn’t give up when the crap hit the fan. The ones who found the courage and strength to not feel sorry for themselves. To not give in. To fight.
My wife (Sandi Weldon Boudreau) is a fighter. I’ve witnessed it time and time again. Sandi exemplifies The Greatest Showman. It’s why we have our daughter. It’s why we have each other. And so much more. Sorry, had to take that small detour. Back to the show…
What I love about The Greatest Showman is the deeper level it took us in the character’s life. A young P.T. Barnum pushed through the odds and got the girl, but this all happened early in the film. Some movies end this way, but that isn’t reality. You see, our hero had courage and strength, but he still had serious flaws. Scars from the past that hadn’t been dealt with. Hurts that he unwittingly hauled into this new relationship. How many of us live in this space?
Barnum pushes against the odds with a loyal, lovely wife and two beautiful girls at his side. They were all fighters. Eventually, it paid off!
P.T. Barnum began packing out the theater. He purchased the house of their dreams. Everything was going well. But this newfound success didn’t heal Barnum’s deep childhood scars. No type of success could. His focus deep down was on himself, and it drove him to make detrimental decisions.
No type of success can heal our scars.
Barnum’s selfishness affected his loyal Circus family — he rejected them once he was part of the elite crowd. Was it because he was a jerk? No. The scars of fear and inferiority from his childhood were gnawing away at his very being, creating a black hole that no level of success could satisfy.
The problems soon trickled into his marriage. And then it happened — rock bottom. The beautiful singer who had ushered him into true respect, quit the tour. His circus burned down. The bank claimed his dream home, and his wife took the girls and moved to her parent’s house — the very prediction that had haunted Barnum since he was a young man.
The killer moment for me happened when his wife was leaving. Barnum shouted out, “I’m not in love with her!” speaking of the British singer he’d been infatuated with for months. His wife responded with, “Of course you’re not. You’re only in love with your show.”
Wow. You know, it wasn’t Barnum’s fault that his childhood had wounded him. But it was his fault that he allowed the scars persist. God was using rock bottom to open his eyes.
Where do we find Barnum next? Feeling sorry for himself. Giving up. But his friends — who he had rejected — gave him grace. They showed up and told him he had to kick self to the curb and pick up the pieces. His family also gave him grace.
We end with a new man experiencing even greater success than he’d had before. But the success didn’t have to carry the weight of making Barnum happy. The success didn’t have to heal his scars. He enjoyed his circus, but he was more loyal to his family. He had truly changed.
I was so moved. How often do I put myself, my ideals, desires and goals above my family. Above everyone? Above God. To some degree, everyone with drive and massive goals will suffer from this. But we should look deeper. Why do we want what we want? Is it just ego? Are we trying to be something we’ve never been before? Are we making up?
Sandi and I will definitely be watching The Greatest Showman again. I didn’t have time in this blog post to get into the acting, but it was awesome – including Zack Efron. In the past I’ve just looked at him as a pretty boy, but man have I been wrong. He killed his part. They all did. Thanks Michael Gracey for everything it took to get this on the big screen!
Remember, go watch it in the theater before it’s too late! And Merry Christmas.