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VINE VOICEon February 5, 2014
I saw this film in the theater. I loved it. I was 10. And before I could see it again, it was gone. I swear this movie was out less than a month. Trashed by the critics, ignored by the populace. The world moved on. But then we got the soundtrack on tape, and listened to it over...and over...and over... And then we got the VHS, and watched it over, and over, and over...

Now

Looking at Christian Bale now it's crazy to think about the kind of awesome family films he was in as a kid. The awesome Australian version of Treasure Island, the insane fairy tale (with Christopher Lee!) Milo in the Land Far Away, Empire of the Sun, and THIS movie. Back then Disney was concentrating full-on on producing great live-action family films. We got Wild Hearts can't be broken, The Rocketeer, Shipwrecked, and a whole slew of TV films that have never come out on DVD (I'm looking at you Bejewelled). Looking back on it now though, this may very well be the pinnacle of Disney family-film making. It's the crown jewel of the era before Hanna Montana, Shia LaBeouf, and High School Musical.

Craftsmanship

Watching this one on pan-and-scan VHS, or even on DVD, it's easy to forget the theater experience. Having gone to the Universal Backlot many times and seeing the sets in Disney World where a lot of productions are made, re-used sets are obvious to me now (yeah, Captain America probably gets beat up in the same alley as one of the characters in this movie). In a world of CGI-crazy film-makers, hand-painted backgrounds area amazing to behold. Everything that dates this movie, just makes it more awesome to me. Hallmarks of a by-gone era of entertaining film-making without all the modern trappings.

And yes, those authentic costumes, kids who REALLY got into character (I'm pretty sure one the newsies started carrying a staff when he saw a newsie carrying one in an old photograph), and good old-fashioned film-making ability make this film different from the average film.It's a beautiful movie. More beautiful on Blu Ray in high definition in glorious widescreen (for once Disney wasn't using Academy Flat, probably so you could see everyone in the dance sequences.

Great Characters

This film is a blend of drama and musical, and the drama side very well done. Excellent (possibly superb) acting all-around. And the story is a good one. The characters are archetypes but loaded with character, to the point where many people watching the film as kids had a favorite character who's name was only mentioned once or twice (or possibly not at all!). It's THAT kind of movie. But undoubtedly the leads carry the film, and do a stupendous job. As a kid, I thought Christian Bale was awesome. I still do. But even the characters who are just there to further the plot seemingly (Sarah) very quickly make you like them, and have strong personalities.

It's a Musical!

Lately people seem to do nothing but hate on musicals. And that is a sad, sad thing. Musicals were my childhood, and I will always love. Good musicals are hard to make, and this film is a GREAT musical. The songs stand on their own, and while the dance sequences are a bit simplistic and dated by today's standards, I have to say they are still great today because of their charm.

There's a lot of depth hidden beneath the surface of this film and I find it fascinating that as an adult, many things that went over my head as a child (in the songs!) resonate with me now.

Overall

If you are a fan of musicals, and Disney musicals in particular, you should own this film. If you have a Blu Ray player...that's the way to own it. The picture quality is excellent, and sound quality is marvelous, and it will make you feel like a 10 year old watching this film in the 90's. If you were a kid who grew up on Disney like me that is.
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Every so often, there’s a movie that I didn’t necessarily enjoy the first time around, but I wind up seeing it again and enjoying it more. That’s the case for me with Newsies. I must not be the only one because in the last twenty years it’s gone from being a disappointment in initial release to being a cult classic that has been turned into a Broadway music.

The movie is a musical inspired by the newsboy’s, or newsies, strike against all the papers inNew York Cityin 1899. It focuses especially on Jack Kelly (Christian Bale) and David Jacobs (David Moscow) who are the leaders of the movement, at least in this telling of the tale.

Jack and David meet when David joins the newsies who sell for Pulitzer and Jack takes him under his wing to help him figure out how to sell. Despite David’s original reluctance, they quickly become a good team.

However, Pulitzer is looking for more profits, and he decides that the best way to do this is to raise the price on the newsies without raising the cost of the paper. He figured they won’t do anything but roll over and take it. But he’s wrong. Jack, with David reluctantly coaching him, begins organizing the others in a strike that spreads to the other newspapers.

Only one reporter is willing to cover the story, Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman). Their only other real ally is Medda Larkson (Ann-Margaret), who owns and performs in a dance hall. Will they be able to win the strike? Or are the odds too stacked against them?

Honestly, I can see why the movie didn’t do well when it first came out. It’s just a strange proposition. A musical around a strike? And it does have a few fights in it that don’t quite seem to fit the first time through. Plus Ann-Margaret’s character seems to be there only to provide a female who sings – she adds very little to the plot.

And yet.

And yet, the story is compelling. Bryan Denton makes a comparison early on to David and Goliath, a comparison that is very apt when looking at the odds the newsies have to overcome. And who doesn’t love to root for the underdog? The story is actually fairly entertaining, and while you know how various plot points will turn out, you really do wonder how the characters will get there.

Another things that works are the characters. You really see some growth in both Jack and David, plus you genuinely believe in their friendship. While we don’t get to know the rest of the newsies nearly as well, we still feel sympathy for them, too.

Then there’s the music. With lyrics by Jack Feldmen and music by Alan Menken, fresh off his success on The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, there are some winners here. Most of the songs are fun, but if Jack’s “Santa Fe” doesn’t tug at your heart strings just a little, you’ve got a serious problem.

The film was directed by Kenny Ortega, who most recently was behind the High School Musical franchise. And if you didn’t know that going into it, you’d suspect it by the time the movie was over. Between the similarly styled choreography and a few trademark type scenes, the similarities are evident even if the stories are very different. That includes the dancing, which could be better but is fun.

One thing I found interesting was how it shows the power of the press. Pulitzer does his best to squash the story of the strikes to make the newsies give in to him. While many would consider some of their rallies news, he convinces all the media of the time to not cover the story. Some things in the media certainly haven't changed, have they?

So look past some of the oddities, and you’ll find a movie that is actually very entertaining. I’m glad I gave Newsies a second chance, and if you are looking for a lesser known musical, I highly recommend this one.
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on December 10, 2013
I'll admit up front: I was 12 years old when I first saw this movie and started renting it from the video store every weekend for one reason: Spot Conlon. So yes, much of my love for this movie was originally based on the "hot guys" and super-fun-to-listen-and-dance-to music (at the time).

Now, 20 years and 2 kids (+husband) later, I STILL love this movie - and not just for the nostalgia of it. I even got my doesn't-like-to-watch-movies-ESPECIALLY-MUSICALS husband to watch it AND enjoy it. The music really is fantastic, even now. It's rhythmic, catchy, emotive, and just timeless. And I'm not sure about all of the "bad acting" reviews, but the kids (and adults) all do a great job. Believe me, I've seen plenty of movies and more than my share of musicals (live, broadcast, filmed, and high-school-produced) - this isn't forced, but is rather natural feeling. And even though the storyline isn't completely historical (what Disney movie ever is?), I'll agree with one commenter that it totally piqued my interest about this time period. I even ended up doing one of my high school speeches on labor unions, as a result of wanting to know more about this issue.

So I'm really sorry that there are just some truly grumpy people out there - always gotta be a group of complainers - but this isn't really worth complaining about. It's loads of fun to watch and should keep your interest unless you are just such a TV-junkie that NOTHING entertains you anymore. Sad for those, and happy I finally own this on DVD - my collection is now complete. (Oh yeah, I own the music book, the cd, countless posters, and am dreaming of being able to finance going to NY to see it on stage one day …)
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on December 30, 2011
My memories of Newsies involve sitting with my sisters around our small, 13 inch television, watching this movie on VHS. I also remember being a sulking teenager in the backseat of my parents van, listening to my cassette tape of the music on my walkman and wishing I too, could run away to Santa Fe.

My sisters and I each had our favorites. I was in love with curly-headed David Moscow, another with Christian Bale (I've since shifted to Bale.. he's just so darn cute), and another sister with the tough Gabriel Damon (aka Spot Conlen). We sighed, dreamed of our first kisses, hated on the actress that got to kiss Christian Bale (I still don't remember her name and I just watched the movie, but I did feel the pang of jealousy once again), and thoroughly enjoyed every choreography number.

I never understood why this movie didn't make it. Maybe it was because the world just wasn't ready for musicals again, but today all I hear is gushing praise from people who saw it in the past, and are seeing it for the first time in recent years. The combination of the story, the music, the dancing, and the cast makes for an incredible movie experience and I look forward to seeing just how many DVD's I can go through (we went through three VHS tapes back in the day!).
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on May 3, 2016
Saw the traveling show and loved it. Now I love the movie. Great songs-- fine production values. I recall when this film came out I was shocked that an old-time musical was being released and wanted to see it. Then it bombed so fast in the theaters that I never got a chance to see it. The next 25 years or so I got on with my life barely giving it a thought. If I noticed the 20th anniversary release I probably thought "why that movie, who will buy that bomb?" Flash forward to 2016. I'm much older not at all the target market for this show and I loved it. Rewatched it and I rarely do that :)
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on August 12, 2012
I don't think I had seen the movie when it came out two decades ago. I usually do see any musical. When I saw one number "Newsies" on the Tony Awards it was terrific and won the Tony for Alan Menken. So I got the movie and it is really good. Lots of dancing and singing with great acting too. In hind sight, you know it would be more sharp and exciting if it were made today but it holds up very well. I got it in Blu-ray and am I glad. Two of the features included are the original Trailers. They didn't bother to give them the Blu-ray treatment and it really shows. This really sold me on Blu-ray. If you don't have a Blu-ray player don't buy this movie...you will not be happy. There are some great dancers and actors including Christian Bale as the lead Newsie (yes he can dance and sing) and Robert Duvall is truly excellent as publisher bad-guy Joseph Pulitzer. Lots of fun. Oh yea, also featured Ann Margaret in a fantastic roll. I didn't even recognize her!!! She was never better.
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on February 2, 2002
"Newsies" is the best musical I have seen in almost 4 decades. It is fun, upbeat, sobering, and rebellious. Based on actual events at the end of the 19th century, it depicts the first strike of the "newsies," children, mostly boys, exploited by the wealthiest newspaper corporations in the U.S (owned by Pulitzer, Hearst, etc.) to sell their newspapers. While Pulitzer was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the country, the newsies were impoverished children, many homeless, orphans, handicapped or trying to help their families survive by eeking out a living. They had to pay for the papers they sold, and often lost money if they couldn't sell all their papers. Pulitzer, in an effort to increase profits, raised the amount charged to the newsies for their papers, provoking an entirely child-run strike that rapidly spread across New York City, and became a major catalyst for a movement to end child labor.
The story is fast-paced, appealing, and inspirational. The music is written by Alan Menken, and is very infectious. (Everyone in our household has been caught singing a tune from it at some point.) The sets, artwork and choreography are all stunning, and there is not one dull spot in the entire production.
This movie is great for all ages - children and adults. It depicts an important piece of history that is rarely taught in schools, and is more important in many ways than what we are taught. It is a wonderful tribute to the intelligence and ingenuity of children, and a reminder that if powerless people act together, they can overcome even the most powerful oppressors.
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on November 9, 2015
I have absolutely loved this movie since I was a little girl. I couldn't wait for it to come on the Disney Channel so I could watch it again. But somehow in my 31 years of life I have never bought a copy until tonight. If you love musicals and feel good movies where the underdogs win this movie is for you. When I was younger I never noticed all the very muscular young men in this movie without their shirts on! (Not to sound like a dirty old woman!) Can't wait to see this in the play version.
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on June 6, 2016
I watched this movie when it first came out. I ordered it because my kids and I have been listening to the Broadway version. I did have to explain that the songs were a little bit different and the reporter is different (between movie and Broadway versions). However, they LOVED the movie. They constantly want to watch it.

I know there is some issues with story line, which is probably why the Broadway version is a little bit different. However, the little guys win against the big guys which is a Disney theme. It makes a nice feel good movie with awesome songs.
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on July 2, 2012
I'm going to discuss the quality of the transfer and the restoration, as well as the Blu-ray extras.

The transfer quality is excellent, and makes especially the crowd, dance, and wide angle shots a joy to watch. The restoration's picture is night from day, or at least a clear morning from a smoggy afternoon. I'd gotten used to the DVD's muddy whites and general pink tone; this Blu-ray's quality brings out true whites, deep blacks and true yellows and blues and greens. It's like a whole new movie.

Unfortunately the extras are still the same as those from the 10th anniversary DVD, but for people who don't have the DVD or for first-timers to the movie (maybe you saw the Broadway show and wondered what the source material was), they still have good value, especially the more serious behind-the-scenes feature "Newsies: the Inside Story" and the storyboard feature.
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