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Still shot from the movie: Newsies.

Newsies

Newsies is a musical film about New York newspaper boys who, after having the cost of their papers raised by a tenth of a cent (the film is set in 1899), decide they are going to organize and go on strike. They go up against newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer, and show the world what a bunch of boys can really do.

Overall Grade: B-
Violence: B
Sexual Content: A
Language: B+
Drugs/Alcohol: --
Release Date: 10 Apr 1992
Run Time: 121
MPAA Rating: PG

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In-Depth Review

Newsies is a film about New York newspaper boys who, after having the cost of their papers raised by a tenth of a cent (the film is set in 1899), decide they are going to organize and go on strike. They go up against newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer, and show the world what a bunch of boys can really do.

The opening credits claim this movie is based on a true story -- and in fact a group of newspaper boys in New York were miffed because the price of their papers were raised. (Click here to learn more about their plight). But one should be skeptical about how much historical accuracy you'll find here. This musical movie does however provide a couple of hours of entertainment.

My main complaint is that these boys seem to be missing school, parents, and adult guidance, and yet are not suffering the expected consequences of their situations. True, it is a Disney musical, but I have stayed in motels that have not been as clean as the orphanage shown here. The old streets of New York are spotless, and these kids look like they all wake up to a hot shower and a bowl of Cheerios before they start their day.

It also seems that the promotions people of Walt Disney are ashamed of this product. The box description does nothing to describe the movie. First, it's a musical -- not a drama. And it has the same shallow story and plot that most musicals must have, in order to fit an hour of music and dancing into a two-hour film.

Second, young Christian Bale and Bill Pullman give great performances in the lead roles as newspaper boys, but they only get minor credit mention on the box. Disney instead uses Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret as the selling tools. Duvall plays a haughty Pulitzer, while you wonder what Ann-Margret is even doing here, except to provide a song or two.

Yet if you like music, and want to put your mind on standby for a while, you may find Newsies an enjoyable experience.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Learn more about the real strike of 1899 that was the bases for this story at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsboys_Strike_of_1899

This film has gone on to enjoy a cult following. If you are a fan of Newsies, what is it about the production that captivates you? You can read more about the movie’s history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsies

Video alternatives

Bill Pullman and Christian Bale continued to act as grew up. You can see these performers in many films including Batman Begins (Christian Bale) and While You Were Sleeping (Bill Pullman).

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Newsies - 20th Anniversary

Release Date: June 2012

Newsies celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a Blu-ray release, on June 19, 2012.

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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