Newsies (1992) was one of Disney’s biggest box office flops, but over the years, the film has become one of Disney’s biggest hits. From the original 1992 movie, to the Broadway musical, to the recent Newsies Live movie, fans can’t seem to get enough of the singing, dancing newsboys. This toe-tapping energy filled film will have you wanting to change the world.
Directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and J.A.C. Redford, this musical is based on the real-life New York City Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, wherein the city’s newspaper hawkers campaigned for a change in their compensation.
Bright, charismatic, and dreamer, Jack Kelly (Christian Bale) is the leader of the Manhattan newsies—a group comprised of individual newspaper boys—who sell copies of the New York World. Jack dreams of going to Santa Fe but when Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of The World, raises the price, the newsies must pay to buy newspapers from his distribution centers, Jack finds himself with a strike to organize. With the help of David Jacobs (David Moscow), a new newsie, Jack rallies every newsie from Manhattan and Brooklyn together to fight The World and the police.
It’s not just about Pulitzer raising the price of papers. A turning point in the film is when Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman), a reporter for The New York Sun, includes details of child labour in New York City and the horrific conditions of an orphanage called the “Refuge” in his article about the newsies’ strike. The strikes later becomes not just about the newsies, but about all the other working, neglected, and abused kids in the city. With the help of Denton, Jack and the newsies print their own newspaper titled the Newsies Banner. They then deliver it to all the kids in every sweatshop, slaughterhouse, and factory, bringing New York City’s workforce to a standstill.
The strike is on, newspaper circulation is down, and Pulitzer is losing thousands of dollars a day. But why? Because it was never about the money at all. It’s about the grown-ups
holding power over the children because, like Jack says, “If Joe gives in to nobodies like [them], that means [the kids] got the power.” If the grown-ups don’t have the power, that means they’re weak. In the end, Jack and David confront Pulitzer, who caves and gives the boys what they have been asking for.
Newsies was released in 1992 but its theme and message are still relevant today. Newsies reminds us of the power that young people have to change the world. This movie challenges our generation to stand up for what’s right and what’s fair. Tough this is hard to do alone, friends and family supporting you and believing in you can go a long way. As the saying goes, “Wrongs will be righted, if we’re united.” One voice can turn into hundreds of voices, which is a lot harder to ignore. Newsies is a movie about fighting the power, it’s about dreaming big, and it’s about friendship. If there’s a little bit of a rebel in you with a desire to make the world a better place, you’ll like this movie.