Although the newly released film is receiving overall mixed reviews, I believe “The Greatest Showman” to be one of the most exciting and truly captivating original musicals I've seen in quite a while. Inspired by the tale of how the Barnum & Bailey Circus began and starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, this film features fantastic music, a heartwarming story, and an all-around sensational experience that all ages can enjoy.a

As a young boy, P.T. Barnum was very poor, but it didn't stop him from falling in love with a beautiful girl named Charity, who came from one of the richest families around. All he had to offer her were his strong feelings of love and a promise that he would give her the world. Eventually, P.T. and Charity married. After some time, Barnum figured out a way to open his own museum, which soon turned into a recurring performance or a reveal of the strange and bizarre creatures he discovered. In the film, a journalist calls his show a “circus,” a term that catches on and helps evolve the production into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus that most people are familiar with today.

Whether it's a play, a Disney or fairy tale based film, or an original production, I've long been a fan of musicals, and while some might call “The Greatest Showman” too cheesy, gimmicking, visually over-the-top, or something of the sort, I really enjoyed this film. Given the notion that the plot is likely exaggerated for entertainment purposes, there is a moving and crowd-pleasing story presented from beginning to end and exceptional acting to accompany it. The one factor that stood out the most, which always surprises me and blows me away in a positive way, are the original songs and dances performed by the actors.

Hugh Jackman plays the role of the ambitious and imaginative visionary (and frequent con man of sorts), P.T. Barnum. Jackman has long been involved in the musical arts, from theater growing up, to multiple stage plays as a professional actor, to films such as “Les Miserables,” and he does not disappoint in “The Greatest Showman.” Similarly, Zac Efron has been involved in other productions such as “High School Musical” and “Hairspray,” Michelle Williams has done notable theater and musical films, and Zendaya has made music a part of her career as well. Rebecca Ferguson proves to have an incredible voice in the film, and the rest of the supporting or background cast is more than adequate.

According to Jackman, the film took up to seven years to develop, in large part because the studio was unwilling to take a chance on an original musical. The final numbers of opening week/weekend are not yet available, but if you appreciate the film the way I do, then the studio made the right decision to eventually give the movie the green light. The soundtrack seems to be making a profit, for good reason, and the film is already receiving multiple Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, and Best Original Song.

If you're looking for a film to take the family to over the holidays, “The Greatest Showman” should be at the top of your list. This film released in theaters on December 20th, 2017.

4 out of 5 stars.

“The Greatest Showman” is rated PG for thematic elements including a brawl. Running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.