Newsies Parent Guide
Extra! Extra! Paperboys sing and dance while on strike!
Parent Movie Review
Newsies is a film about New York newspaper carriers 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 inspired by a true story—and in fact a group of newspaper boys in New York did protest 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 movie does however provide a couple of hours of entertainment.
My main complaint is that these boys, who can’t go to school and are missing parental guidance, don’t seem to be suffering the expected consequences. With what feels like the wave of Disney’s magical wand, the orphanage and children’s penitentiary shown here are nicer than some motels I’ve stayed in. Even the old streets of New York are spotless. And these supposedly deprived kids look like they all wake up to a hot shower and a warm breakfast before they start their day.
Part of the problem is that this is a musical, not a serious drama. So, despite the fact that the story alludes to poverty, violence on the streets and children being forced to grow up before their time, the song and dance numbers distract from the desperateness of the situation. This diminishes the viewer’s understanding of why the small increase of a penny is such a big deal to these young entrepreneurs, as well as understates the courage it must have taken for such a ragtag group of juveniles to organize and stand up to the oppression they faced from the adult world.
Young Christian Bale and David Moscow give great performances in their lead roles as newsies. Other notables are Robert Duvall as the haughty Pulitzer, Bill Pullman as the sincere journalist and Ann-Margret as a provocative vaudeville starlet. (In a cast comprised almost entirely of males, I guess including her character was the only way to try and sneak some sex appeal into the script.)July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Newsies rated PG? Newsies is rated PG by the MPAA for mild violence.
Violence: Because of the frequent musical numbers in this movie, violent depictions may seem less serious, even though there are a lot of them. Child laborers are at the mercy of their adult employers. Children are bullied, threatened verbally and attacked with physical force (adults pull out chains and clubs to beat boys). Boys retaliate with slingshots, punches and kicks. A boy is on the run from a prison warden who takes advantage of his position at the children’s penitentiary that he oversees. Some youth are incarcerated. Police turn a blind eye to injustices or are part of the crowd that tries to physically restrain the youth. Teens threaten and push around a girl and her younger brother. Teens fight and one boy uses iron knuckles as a weapon. An adult character tries to bribe a youth. A boy is held against his will. Characters steal and lie.
Sexual Content: A vaudeville performer dresses provocatively and sings some sexually suggestive songs. A young woman is unsure if there are sexual intentions when two male assailants threaten her and push her around.
Language: Infrequent use of mild profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Teen boys smoke cigarettes and cigars. A ten-year-old says he drank beer. Drinks, that might be alcoholic, are served at a restaurant.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for Newsies after the break...
Newsies Parents' Guide
A newspaper journalists tries to help the boys get recognition for their plight. How does using the written word become a big part of their fight? Why does he tell them that an event didn’t happen if it doesn’t get coverage in the papers? How does Pulitzer use the power of the press to gain personal power?
Learn more about the real strike of 1899 that was the bases for this story.
Check out the biography of newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer.
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? Read more about the history of the Newsies movie.
The most recent home video release of Newsies movie is June 19, 2012. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Newsies - 20th Anniversary
Release Date: 19 June 2012
Newsies celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a Blu-ray release. Bonus extras include:
- Commentary with Filmmakers
- Newsies, Newsies, See All About It
- Newsies: The Inside Story
- The Strike! The True Story
- Storyboard to Scene Comparison Sequence with Commentary
- Sing-Along Feature
Related home video titles:
Christian Bale continued to act as he grew up, and is now perhaps best known for his role as Batman. Bill Pullman stars in While You Were Sleeping. The musical Oliver! also depicts, in a not-so-serious way, the desperate situation of parentless children – this time in the streets of London.