The Greatest Showman / The Greatest Show?

We were looking for a film to see in between Christmas and New Year. Something that was suitable for the full family. One that stood out as I’d seen the adverts on a bus was The Greatest Showman. A Story about P.T. Barnum and a circus? I’ll be honest I knew nothing about it and my only concept was the stage musical “Barnum” as a hint. With that in mind, we booked 4 tickets.

The Greatest Showman Review

Catherine had a quick look at a couple of film critic reviews… “It’s being panned!”
To me it doesn’t matter what a film rating review says, I’d prefer to make my own opinion. Plus what I get out of the film, will be different for the kids. Not everyone sees the film as a critic see it. On the day of our visit, Catherine accidentally scalds her hand on a pan and decides to not go. Firstly as she had a sore hand, but also as the film is meant to be rubbish.

SO, it was just Dad and two girls. Plus an extra seat to be able to spread out on.

The Greatest Show

The opening scene of The Greatest Showman sets the scene for what I felt was an amazing show. Firstly I didn’t realise it was a musical film. Secondly, the slow build-up of the intro sucked you into a magical world, that (spoiler alert) was a fantasy dream. It was vividly impressive and the audience on screen and in the cinema seemed to love it.

As the story moves on through the life of a young Barnum, you learn about his struggles and hardships as a boy. When his father dies, he is left to survive by himself. Stealing food to eat and doing street work to make some money. Until one day a travelling recruitment drive in town is advertising for men to join the team of construction on the American railroad.

Several years later he returns as an adult with a little bit of money behind him. Just enough to feel that he has enough to start his life. Enough to be able to return to his girl friend he had as a child, who came from a wealthy family. And it is from this moment in the film that I felt that it pulled together and created the fantasy world we were looking for. Particularly at Christmas with the family.

Barnum creates a circus with live acts from all over. Each as fanciful as the next, but also known as “freak shows”. A Giant, a tiny General, A 500lb man, a bearded lady, a wolf boy, Siamese twins and a brother and sister trapeze act.

This started to remind me of “Love Never Dies” (Phantom of the Opera 2). The ringmaster (Barnum) building a family or people who felt ashamed to be who they are. As much as Barnum never seemed to accept himself for how he was or what he had.

The Greatest Musical

The music reminded me so much of High School Musical. The songs were very rousing and were uplifting. Although I’ve never seen La La Land, the songs were written by the same composers. For a film that had a bad write up the music seemed to go in the opposite direction. The Album of the film has been on the top of the charts since it’s release. It seems to be played on the radio daily, and I’m not talking about 1 track, I can easily recall 3 different tracks being played daily.

The Critics were too ironic

The irony of bad reviews by the critics is lost until you see the film. A theatre critic reviews Barnum’s Circus and slates it in a newspaper write up. Just like real life the bad review seems to have driven interest. 7 Weeks on The Greatest Showman is still drawing fans into the cinema. And the “poor” film, is only the second film that I’ve been to see twice at the cinema.

Seeing it a second time releases more story elements that you miss the first time. It also made it more emotional. I’m not joking when I say that three out of four Hoopers were sobbing throughout and wiping their eyes as the lights came up. If you enjoy a musical, you really need to see this before it’s out of the cinema. Seeing it on the big screen adds to the performance aspect of the circus.

As we walked back to the car Imogen said: “Now that was MY kind of film!”. Explaining that it wasn’t too childish (animation/kids film) and was gritty enough to still be fine for the family.

I’d love to see this turn into a stage show too. Have you been to see The Greatest Showman yet? What did you think?


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  1. I went to see it last night with my 12 year old. I knew even less than you did as I didn’t know it was about Barnum and the circus. I think I clicked about a third of the way through ????. I usually hate musicals but I loved it. The music is brilliant and we sang all the way home. Loved it as did my daughter x

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