When I first saw the previews for the movie The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as circus scion P.T. Barnum, I wasn’t overwhelmed with a desire to see it. I thought, “maybe.”
Lucky for me, (and for them, LOL), the publicity team for The Greatest Showman used Facebook to spread the word about their movie VERY, very effectively. After watching behind-the-scenes inspiring videos like this one and this one that showed how truly moving the songs in this musical are, I was determined to see it. Plus, lots and lots of parents started posting that this was a family-friendly movie, too. Whoop whoop! Could it REALLY live up to its PG rating?? All the reviews I read via Commons Sense Media and Plugged In were positive, but I was determined to find out for myself.
So, last weekend I took my 11-year-old daughter to see The Greatest Showman. My 7-year-old asked, “Why can’t I come, too?” and I told him I needed to make sure the movie was really OK for him to see.
Reader, I tell you, it was ALL THAT and more! There was one fairly scary scene with a fight that caused a fire, so if your children are really little, you want to know that ahead of time if they are very sensitive. But that is the only thing that would give me pause about taking a small child.
Here’s what I LOVED about The Greatest Showman, and what you need to know as a parent before you take your kids to see it.
1. The importance of family and fidelity is a major theme
Barnum’s motivation to succeed is his love for his wife, Charity, and his two daughters. Throughout the movie, the importance of family is underscored multiple times. When Barnum is tempted by a female business associate, he faces a tough decision, knowing that if he turns her down, he will be financially ruined, but if he accepts her advances, he will be betraying the wife he loves so much. There are some great lessons here about what one should or shouldn’t do in the name of success, and about the importance of marriage and family.
2. Inclusion of those who are “different” is a major theme
Obviously, Barnum seeks out “oddities” for his circus – people who, in Barnum’s time, were kept in the shadows, feared, vilified, who were hidden away even by their own mothers, and unable in many cases to even earn a living. But Barnum gives these outcasts jobs, a purpose, and even a family. In a society where people with disabilities still struggle to be accepted and included, this is a message our kids can’t hear enough! There is a lovely story line of an interracial relationship here that also underscores this point beautifully.
3. Barnum is portrayed as good, but flawed
Barnum works hard and achieves HUGE success, but with his wealth and fame, he starts to lose sight of his priorities. It’s nice that they’ve portrayed him as HUMAN, and showed the down side of success – no spoilers, but there is also a great lesson for kids in Barnum’s behavior once he realizes how off track he’s gotten.
Things parents should know before hand
There are just a couple mild warnings I’d give to parents about The Greatest Showman. One is, when the Bearded Lady (played by Keala Settle, who is amazing!!) is in circus costume, she shows a LOT of cleavage. Like, a lot a lot. I guess the circus REALLY needed people to know that, despite her full facial hair, she was DEFINITELY a lady. So bear that in mind if you have sons who are struggling with images like that. It is by no means the entire movie, but you see her this way a few times. Another warning would be the aforementioned fire, started by thugs who are protesting Barnum’s “freaks.” The fire and the bigotry can be a little frightening, but it’s not overdone by any means. Lastly, at the very beginning of the movie, Barnum is orphaned when his father dies, and he has to fend for himself on the streets. If you have kids who come from hard places, have been in foster care or have lost a parent, you want to know this going in.
All in all, I LOVED the movie and I think it is suitable for all three of my kids, ages 7 to 13. The music is amazing and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack non-stop since I saw the film!
So, if you love movies and are looking for a good family-friendly, true story, fun movie filled with lessons, go see The Greatest Showman! Below, find the inspiring behind-the-scenes video that gave me GOOSEBUMPS and REALLY made me want to see it, and enjoy!