In my opinion, The Greatest Showman’s release was shadowed by negative press reviews for absolutely no good reason, so I think it’s only fair I have my say.
I won’t lie to you, even before seeing The Greatest Showman in cinemas, I knew it was going to be my thing. As a dancer for over 18 years, anything theatrical is pretty much up my street; add Hugh Jackman and Zendaya to the mix and there’s about 0% chance of me not loving it. However, I would also consider myself to be someone who is open to differences of opinion, after all, the world would be an entirely boring place if everyone agreed with each other on absolutely everything. This being said, when I believe that something is being treated unfairly or bad-mouthed undeservingly, I will absolutely speak up.
I have found myself in this position multiple times over the past few weeks following the cinematic release of Michael Gracey’s “The Greatest Showman”, which opened on Boxing Day last year. Despite performing well at the box office ($231.5 million worth of well, thank you very much), the film’s release was somewhat overshadowed by what I regard as hideously unfair negative reviews from some particularly smarmy journalists. Some would suggest that, by now, I should probably have let this go. After all, the negative reviewers have already been overwhelmingly proven wrong as the film continues to sell out in cinemas worldwide. But that’s not my style.
Before embarking on any roasting of renowned journalists (but don’t worry, I will get to it), I should probably first offer a brief synopsis of the film for anyone who has not seen it yet; something that I hope to change with this very article. The film centres around historical figure, P. T. Barnum, who – after a childhood of poverty and mistreatment – vows to himself and to his family that he will make something of himself, bringing “magic” into their lives. And he does. Inspired by a childhood experience, he sets out in search of what he describes as “curiosities” to feature in his museum. Ethics aside for now, he manages to recruit a cast of wonderfully unique acts, and his circus becomes a raging success. With success unfortunately comes controversy, which the show certainly creates, being visited by more and more bigoted protestors every night. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but in summary “The Greatest Showman” is a fabulously upbeat movie with an important moral message and unapologetically catchy soundtrack to match, which is why I was entirely amazed to read some pretty unfair, and inaccurate, reviews.
Journalists from the BBC’s Nicholas Barber to The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin have picked holes in The Greatest Showman, criticising it for almost anything, from its chart-topping soundtrack to its deviation from the reality of P. T. Barnum’s “freak show”. Some pretty unfair phrases are chucked about in said articles, accusing the soundtrack of being “calculatingly commercial” (sorry, but – who would want to produce music that wouldn’t appeal to a wide audience?) and even “dreadful”. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t help but feel that critics on the whole were simply following suit, giving “The Greatest Showman” a bad review simply because their forerunners did, unwilling to admit that they – a fully grown adult – actually enjoyed an original musical that featured absolutely no sex or violence, imagine! Well, I’m here to break the mould! I unapologetically and unashamedly LOVE “The Greatest Showman”, and I am definitely not alone (I have forced many people to come and see it with me and each one completely loved it). I can honestly say that I have never left a cinema feeling so uplifted, and with the trials and tribulations of modern life, why deny ourselves a few hours of blissful escapism?
I don’t know, perhaps I’m taking this all a bit too seriously. But, please, if you haven’t already – go and give The Greatest Showman a chance while you still can! You might just find yourself with a new favourite film…
The Greatest Showman is still showing in selected cinemas nationwide. Special sing-a-long performances are coming to Cineworld cinemas throughout February: tickets available here: https://www.cineworld.co.uk/blog/greatest-showman-sing-a-long