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  • Newsies
    • Newsies
    • Runtime:121 min
    • Release Date:2014-12-23 01:00:10
    • Director: Kenny Ortega
    • Genres: Drama, Family, Musical
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Newsies
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In 1899 New York City, paper boys sing, dance, and form a union to
strike for better wages and working conditions. Leading the "Newsies"
is cute young Christian Bale (as Jack "Cowboy" Kelly), an orphan who
dreams of moving to Santa Fe. He derives inspiration from curly-haired
pal David Moscow (as David "Davey" Jacobs), who is trying to earn some
extra money for his unemployed father. The two dancing boys have
obvious, er… shall we call it "chemistry" and move along? To make them
a little less gay, filmmakers throw in sexy senior Ann-Margret (as
Medda Larkson); depicted as having a thing for young lads, she shouts
"I put on my best and I stick out my chest!" Go figure…

You've got to wonder what Walt Disney would have thought about this…
And, we haven't even gotten to pre-teen beer-drinker Luke Edwards (as
Les Jacobs). But neither has Ann-Margret. Give her a week. Joining the
film's list of flawed come-ons is red-bearded Robert Duvall (as Joseph
Pulitzer). Mr. Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst made newspaper
street peddlers a staple of American cities. They were often homeless,
disabled, and/or lower class lads, trying to make a living before
television and coin-operated newspaper racks brought change. Not
surprisingly, newsboys were used by publishers as cheap child labor.

According to both the DVD sleeve and film, this is "the true story of a
courageous group of newsboys who become unlikely heroes when they team
up to fight an unscrupulous newspaper tycoon. Determined to make their
dreams come true, they find the courage to challenge the powerful…" The
claim that the film was "Critically acclaimed from coast to coast," and
stars Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret is debatable. Bill Pullman (as
Bryan Denton) is the best "adult" in the cast. The film received mostly
unfavorable reviews when released. And, relatively few critics called
it "must-see, feel-good entertainment."

Yet, even with its flaws and studio misrepresentation, "Newsies"
remains entertaining. It's certainly original; you just don't see many
musicals being produced about turn-of-the-century newsboys. The real
stars are Bale, Moscow, and the energetic gang of "Newsies". They are
obviously not all professional singers and dancers, which is probably
why they succeed. Each one makes to most of his characterization, from
Gabriel Damon (as Spot) on saying, "Never fear, Brooklyn is here!" to
Marty Belafsky (as Crutchy) advising the jail-bound to "make friends
with the rats." The most valuable player is definitely choreographer
and director Kenny Ortega, who does everything he can to make these
"Newsies" sell. And, he really hits the first one home.

******* Newsies (4/8/92) Kenny Ortega ~ Christian Bale, David Moscow,
Gabriel Damon, Luke Edwards

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People have covered this movie in excruciatingly fine detail, so I
won't go into the technical aspects of the film. They have already been
explored quite adequately. Where this movie fails is where all live
action Disney movies fails. Disney has a tendency to infuse all the
heavies in their movies with a heavy, leaden cartoonish aspect. I guess
that makes them less threatening to the audience their movies are aimed
at. Newsies is no different. You could even make a strong claim that
the movie was fomulaic. Guilty as charged. But this doesn't really
detract much from the movie very much. Anyone who expects reality or
accuracy from any, and I do mean, ANY movie musical is setting the bar
way too high for a movie of this type. All movie musicals have a
certain element of fantasy to them. No-one breaks into song in the real
world for dramatic effect. Do they? So to judge a musical on the basis
of historical accuracy or realistic ambiance is doing a fool's errand,
and are just simply nit-picking. Most of these same people would also
cheerfully give a 10 to any one of several 60's musicals with two
people professing their love for each other in song against a painted
backdrop. So, please. Give it up.

Newsies was just simply released at the wrong time. Movie musicals were
box office poison then.

Newsies gets much more right than it gets wrong. The choreography was
stunning in it's execution, given the complexity of the routines that
were performed during the movie. Christian Bale turns in a most
agreeable performance considering his age at the time this movie came
out. The songs by Alan Menken were as engaging and catchy as they could
be, given the historical material on which they were based. And that's
probably what killed the movie upon it's release, ultimately. A dated
premise. Disney took a big chance and rolled the dice, and lost. But
perhaps what was bad timing then, might be good timing now.

This movie is much better that most have led you to believe. And if you
are willing to suspend disbelief and watch the movie on it's own terms,
you are in for a treat. The movie has a lot of energy and is so earnest
in its' message, it almost hurts. But is it good? Yeah. I think it is.

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Moderately-paced and simple, Disney's Newsies is best classified as a
'dramedy,' outside of its obvious musical category. The music is
decent, Ortega's choreography, as always, fits into a niche of its own,
and the singing is fairly easy on the ears and the audience,
thankfully, not subjected to pubescent opera singers for a 2-hour
duration. Starring Christian Bale as the rebellious, easy-going, and
lovable Jack Kelly, leader of a strike against Joseph Pulitzer, (played
by highly acclaimed actor Robert Duvall) Newsies is the fictionalized
story of 1899 newsboys who fought against Pulitzer, one of the biggest
newspaper giants in New York City at the time, to lower newspaper
prices back to normal after a spontaneous race of one tenth of a cent
per paper. The supporting cast consists of David Moscow, Bill Pullman,
Ann-Margret, and Max Casella. (of Doogie Howser, MD fame) This movie,
though painfully black-and-white in character, is light-hearted, fun,
and introduces feet-tapping songs for which a person might go back for
alone.

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