This was the first film I went to see after signing up for a Cineworld Unlimited card, so I convinced myself it was ok to take in a cheesy, critically-panned musical because it was technically ‘free’ – as in, not free at all, but I wasn’t paying for the actual ticket to see this specific film. It’s just part of the deal, it’s on the card, don’t blame me for the choice, I’m just getting my money’s worth.
You get the picture? I was slightly embarrassed about it.
Halfway through the opening number, I was over all that, and just enjoying the ride.
There’s no messing around, once the adverts and the trailers are out of the way, the film opens and is straight into the opening song, Hugh Jackman strutting his stuff as P T Barnum marshalling the performers in his circus ring to the literally stomping beat.
This fades neatly away into Barnum as a boy, and we’re drawn back to the beginning of his rags to riches tale.
Where other movies might have spent an hour on the journey from childhood to adulthood for the star of their show, here it’s all dealt with in the space of a single song, and it’s no worse for that. Significantly better, it could be argued, as it is another quickly hummable earworm.
By this point, you’ll either be heading for the exits or eagerly awaiting the next set piece, and if it’s the latter, you never have to wait too long.
This isn’t a film that gets bogged down in detail or too much exposition. It’s a big, bold, bright, colourful, unashamed piece of old fashioned entertainment, and on that level it really works.
They’re written by the songwriting team that powered La La Land to Oscar glory, but this is much more fun.
Crusty old critics might have looked own their noses at it, but I predict The Greatest Showman will be popping up in Boxing Day TV schedules for the rest of recorded time.