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But it’s Barnum’s wandering eye that drives the film’s conflict. During a visit to Queen Victoria, he meets the celebrated Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), and he’s captivated — by her voice, and her crystaline presence. Production: A 20th Century Fox release of a Chernin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox production. ” Yet “The Greatest Showman,” while it’s all but destined to become the crowd-pleaser of the holiday season (and, just possibly, a surprise awards contender), lacks the darkly audacious grandeur that made “Moulin Rouge! Phillip is quickly consumed by his love for the black trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), a clandestine passion that builds to the devotional duet “Rewrite the Stars,” a number literally — and spiritually — suspended in air. Editors: Tom Cross, Robert Duffy, Joe Hutshing, Michael Mc Cusker, Jon Poll, Spencer Susser. With: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ellis Rubin, Skylar Dunn.
The couple now has two daughters (Austyn Johnson and Cameron Seely), and Barnum’s fantasy is a kind of trifecta: He wants to fend for his family (he’s wounded at not being able to buy his girls ballet slippers), he wants to validate the love of the wife he lured into poverty — and he wants to do something that no one has done before: turn life, in all its gutbucket wonder, into a star attraction.In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, with Cleese receiving the 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance.It’s enough to make you want to see “The Elephant Man” turned into a musical written by Lady Gaga.The numbers in “The Greatest Showman” have a dance-pop fire that keeps you hooked, and that bursting-out quality recalls, at times, the spirit of “Moulin Rouge! Barnum hires, as a right-hand man, a slumming rich-kid playwright, Phillip Caryle (Zac Efron), who’s got downscale showmanship in his blood.That will require a new kind of presentational daring, not to mention a little lying.Eagerly, with his eyes on the prize, Barnum lines up his fabulous freaks: a 500-pound man, who he will bill as a 750-pound man (why not? At the same time, the film takes Barnum’s infamous believe-it-or-not attractions — Tom Thumb, Dog Boy, Tattoo Man, the Bearded Lady — and makes them over into sensitive enlightened outcasts, a kind of 19th-century freak-show gallery of identity politics. The numbers are shot like electromagnetic dance-pop music videos, and to say that they sizzle with energy wouldn’t do them justice — they’re like a hypodermic shot of joy to the heart. Barnum would have been suckered by it, and would have approved. Barnum, the anything-goes circus impresario of the 1800s, who is played with irresistible effervescence by Hugh Jackman, and turns him into a saintly huckster-maestro who invented the spirit of modern showbiz by daring to follow his dream. Yet “The Greatest Showman” wants to give you a splashy good time, and does, and it’s got something that takes you by surprise: a genuine romantic spirit.On stage in America, kicking off the tour that Barnum leverages his empire to arrange (which really happened), Jenny, in ruby-red lipstick, sings “Never Enough” with an ecstatic solemnity that leaves you floored. The real thing he’s fallen for is Jenny’s dream of upscale sublimity. The director, Michael Gracey, is an Australian maker of commercials who has never directed a feature before, and he works with an exuberant sincerity that can’t be faked. Barnum, in his carny-barker way, knows that everyone is a star; his appeal, as Jackman portrays him, is that he changes the world by getting the whole world to believe that. Until, of course, it was topped by something called Hollywood. Producers: Laurence Mark, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping. The spectacular vocals are by “The Voice” alum Loren Allred, who with her rapturous cries of sounds like Adele ascending into the heavens. “The Greatest Showman” is a concoction, the kind of film where all the pieces click into place, yet at an hour and 45 minutes it flies by, and the link it draws between P. Film Review: ' The Greatest Showman' Reviewed at AMC 34th St., New York, Dec.