Newsies

1992 Directed by Kenny Ortega. Starring Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret, Robert Duvall, David Moscow, Luke Edwards, Max Casella, Marty Belafsky, Gabriel Damon.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., April 10, 1992

How did this movie get made? I can't even imagine the pitch meeting at which someone tries to sell the movie moguls over at Disney a Dickensian musical about turn-of-the-century newsboys exploited, striking and organizing. Organizing!? Based on a real event, the newspaperboys' strike of 1899, this is a movie in cultural free fall. Hardly anyone makes musicals anymore, and certainly no one makes them about the labor movement. I'm not even too sure how many people even read the paper these days. However, Christian Bale and David Moscow are charming in this baby buddy film. They lead a huge chorus of ragtag boys in large production numbers that could have, with the exception of a cute but weird Michael Jackson number, come straight from the head of Stanley Donen or Vincente Minnelli. The kids are great and it's hard to believe that few of them are trained dancers. Director Ortega is a choreographer in love with the Forties musical and he also choreographed Dirty Dancing, which certainly owes much of its success to the dancing. Equal parts Battleship Potemkin and Oliver!, Newsies pits an army of scruffy boys against Duvall who's cheerfully over-the-top as evil capitalist Joseph Pulitzer. This is primarily a children's movie and I have a hard time working up much rancor against a movie as campily perverse as this one is. I sat through the whole thing in open-mouthed wonder. It even has Ann-Margret in a role just too strange to describe. Academy Award nominee, now winner, Alan Menken (who with lyricist Howard Ashman wrote the music for Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid) here teams up with Jack Feldman to write a very good, traditional and charming score. I can't imagine that this movie will do well, but the kids will love it if you can get them to go.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Kenny Ortega Films
Michael Jackson's This Is It
Michael Jackson moonwalks among us for a final hurrah.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 30, 2009

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
College approaches, but that's no reason to stop singing and dancing.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 31, 2008

More by Kathleen Maher
Incident at Oglala
British filmmaker Apted makes a carefully reasoned, yet passionate statement about the legal system that has ensnared American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier.

July 10, 1992

Titicut Follies
Wiseman filmed conditions in the Bridgeport Mental Hospital with a bare minimum of crew and equipment, which resulted in a devastatingly candid view of life behind the high walls of a state mental hospital for the criminally insane.

July 10, 1992

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Newsies, Kenny Ortega, Christian Bale, Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret, Robert Duvall, David Moscow, Luke Edwards, Max Casella, Marty Belafsky, Gabriel Damon

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle