When P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) loses his business when the company goes bankrupt, he's left to search for another job to keep a roof, albeit a leaking one, over his head. He just wants a better life for his wife Charity (Michelle Williams) and children, and one day has the most fantastic idea of open Barnum's American Museum of Curiosity. Soon he puts together a travelling circus, a freak show featuring giants and dwarves, Siamese twins and bearded ladies. But for him it isn't about exploiting people who are different for the entertainment of the general public, it's about encouraging them to be part of a dance and acrobatic show to celebrate what's special about them. To many people today, there really is no difference between the two, but it's safe to say that his unique venture made Barnum the greatest showman who ever lived.
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Colin Pryce is a Louisiana congressman who becomes a hero in the eyes of all US residents surrounding the Gulf of Mexico when he decides to take action to help those affected by a severe BP oil spill. Many citizens have had their livestock taken from them, with hundreds upon thousands of shrimp and fish killed in the area, and he seems to be the only one making any move to ease the devastating environmental and financial impact. With the help of his wife Deborah Pryce, he wins respect for his charismatic and inspiring speeches, but he almost destroys all that when human temptation gets in the way. A whirlwind affair becomes a nationwide scandal when he is seduced by a beautiful young woman, and it's all he and his family can do to lessen the blow for his disappointed followers by continuing his campaign to address those who still need his help.
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We soon see that Conrad's problems run deep, as what should be quaint little interactions between he and doting mom (Mary Tyler Moore, excellent here), or he and imperviously upbeat dad (Donald Sutherland, ditto) turn perverse and creepy. His shrink (Judd Hirsch) doesn't offer any "It's not your fault" platitudes, leaving Conrad's healing process up to himself. The only joy he finds is with his new girl Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern, in her second role ever), who would be perfectly cast -- except she looks too much like Karen (Dinah Manoff), Conrad's friend from the hospital.
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Steve Harris wants to turn his home into a hotel for Iron Maiden fans.