In Defense Of The Greatest Showman: Why It Worked Despite Critics’ Opinions
There’s been too much hate from those who know movies best
For very good reason, The Greatest Showman has been on everyone’s lips since the film first hit Philippine theaters. Whether it’s to praise the acting, the choreography, the costumes, the mere grandiosity of it all or to sing the LSS-inducing songs, there just seems to be no keeping quiet about it.
But the success of the film has been reached arguably because of word of mouth, as opposed to the traditional critics’ recommendation. In fact, The Greatest Showman has been receiving a lot of hate from those that know the industry best.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the film “[An] ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario PT Barnum [that] is all smoke and mirrors, no substance.” Peter Travers from Rolling Stone said that despite the production and the awarded people behind it, that the movie “[added] up to a shrill blast of nothing.”
In everyone’s go-to Rotten Tomatoes, the critics rating is at a sour 55 percent. The consensus states that “The Greatest Showman tries hard to dazzle the audience with a Barnum-style sense of wonder—but at the expense of its complex subject’s far more intriguing real-life story.”
Yes, there was more showmanship than substance. Yes, it didn’t leave its audience with some great lesson about animal cruelty or some humbling feeling about a love that knows no boundaries. And yes, PT Barnum’s life was far more complicated than the film portrayed and director Michael Gracey and his team definitely exercised creativity in portraying the parts of his life that they chose to write-in.
But it’s still doing well in the eyes, ears and mouths of its viewers and that’s because The Greatest Showman never really promised an amazing storyline that would pull at our heartstrings. Its trailer made the silent vow of a success story strung together by song, dance and the idea of finding yourself among friends turned family—and it is in these aspects that the film truly blossoms.
The soundtrack, worked on by Oscar and Tony winners Ben Pasek and Justin Paul, is nothing short of beautiful. The choreography, with the stunts, immaculate synchronization and Jean Kelly-esque movements, dazzles and wows with every turn. The cast was amazing, their characters endearing and their development was enough to get us hooked.
If you believe the main goal of the movie is to entertain, if you walk in not wanting a historical documentary, then The Greatest Showman will not disappoint. If you want songs that will sing you to sleep, dances that will make you wish you had talent and numbers that will leave you almost breathless, then The Greatest Showman is it.