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.