I love musicals, I adore musical theatre, I love glitz, glamour, costumes, theatrics, and everything that comes with it- which is why I loved The Greatest Showman to ridiculous levels. I cried from the first song to the final moments and I genuinely came out of the cinema with tears still falling down my face at how uplifting and beautiful it was. I thought the whole film was amazing, I thought the soundtrack was faultless and I genuinely did just spend a whole paragraph raving about it yes…
But do you know who didn’t agree with me? 90% of the critics.
When I went on my usual splurge of reading other people’s reviews I was startled to find people describing this film as ‘garish’, ‘cringy’, ‘miserable’, ‘middle of the road’, ‘godawful’- but why? What was it about this film that the public embraced and adored so much, that the people who are genuinely supposed to be the ‘experts’ hated so much?
Honestly- I can only think of two reasons. Firstly, the historical inaccuracy.
The film does indeed glorify P.T Barnum to an extent- when in actuality, he was a bit of a questionable character… but sorry- if we’re going to take issue with him, then let’s all start slagging off any biographical film which doesn’t 100% accurately depict people, shall we? Shall we reassess Pocahontas, Brave Heart, ANY film with the Royals in it??
I feel like that’s such a ridiculous thing to base a bad review on. Nobody is going home and praising the man who paraded people for being different- but what the film does do, is demonstrate the family, the optimism and the hope that the circus brought to people. If ‘This is Me’ isn’t an anthem for being yourself, being comfortable in your difference and embracing self-love, then I don’t know what is.
The other huge factor that I think turned off critics was the fact that it was a feel-good musical, which did indeed border on wonderfully cringe at times.
I feel like there’s such a snobbery in film criticism sometimes- to the extent that most people won’t let themselves enjoy things that are genuinely just good fun.
From a mere peasant’s opinion- nobody will think less of you for wholeheartedly enjoying a musical or wanting to belt your heart out to the songs from it. You don’t have to enjoy Citizen Kane, Alfred Hitchcock and nothing else to be a good critic. The people who’s opinions I’m most interested in are those who write from the heart and say it how they found it- not what they expect people to read.
I’m all for a bit of opinion and controversy- but if the reason you dislike something is that it generally ‘isn’t that cool’ is so very high school, so very ridiculous- and let me say, much like the critic in the film- they could all use a bit of joy in their life.