Newsies

  • Review Date: October 12, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1992

Common Sense Media says

Kids go on strike in gritty, historical musical.
  • Review Date: October 12, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1992

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While Jack deceives his friends (and himself, to a point) about his past, and is coerced into quitting the strike, he eventually does the right thing, especially when his friend David is threatened. While it's never made clear in the dialogue, there's a sense of the melting-pot of New York, with Irish, Jewish, and African American kids overcoming their gang-like divisions to unite in the strike. Adults are mostly meanies, although a few high-placed ones come to the rescue in the end. There are only a few girls in the story, but they stand with the good guys.

Violence

Much fist-fighting and beat-downs, some incorporated into dance choreography (think West Side Story), some not (as in a bare-knuckle boxing match). Often grown men threaten to beat kids. Kids attack back with slingshots.

Sex

A scandal headline about a nude corpse, and that's about it.

Language

"Damn" and "dumbasses" uttered.

Consumerism

References to newspapers of yesteryear, most of which don't exist now.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Raffish boys smoke (and steal their cigarettes and cigars), and a little child drinks beer to win a bet.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Disney production features a tough, New York street-level milieu, in which confrontations frequently threaten to culminate in fist-fighting, and often do. There are menacing scenes of adults threatening to beat children using clubs and chains, and a rivalry between different subsets of kids looks somewhat like street gangs. One boy smokes cigarettes. There is a strong pro-union (and anti-management) sentiment throughout.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Loosely based on actual incidents, NEWSIES casts New York City daily-newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer ( Robert Duvall) in a most villainous light. Engaged in a circulation war with rival William Randolph Hearst, the greedy Pulitzer raises the rates at which the "newsies" buy the "papes" every morning. The street-savvy kids decide to form a union of all newsboys in the city, to defy not just Pulitzer but also Hearst and anyone who pushes them around. Leading the strike is orphan Jack (Christian Bale), and David (David Moscow), who works to help support his family. Pulitzer refuses to negotiate. He fights back viciously, with hired muscle, "scabs," and, finally, blackmailing Jack. David and his household also become targets, in between the singing.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Newsies, with its energetic score and large-scale dance gymnastics, hits a note lost between the pop-fantasy and ragtime of Bugsy Malone and the R-rated realism of Gangs of New York. Dramatically there is some surprisingly strong stuff here, and perhaps Newsies would have come across better without the tunes.

Even with an upbeat finale, most grownups come across as the worst kind of abusive authority-figures, domineering and brute-force guardians, although a few adults support the boys. There is pretty strong Goliath-vs.-David sense of injustice and helplessness, with police and hired thugs against the kids. Ruthless, immoral corporations control everything, and mainstream media is not to be trusted -- especially when its own investments are threatened.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the history of labor movements and strikes, plus the larger-than-life characters of Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst, and a certain U.S. president who makes a cameo at the end. There really was a newsboys' strike, and you could fact-check the parts about it this movie gets wrong. Newsies also proposes, loud and clear, that despite its supposed watchdog role, the media is just as corporate as any other business -- and just as nasty and unethical when its interests are threatened. Of course, unions can misbehave as well, for the same reasons, but you don't see that here. How do we look at the media and at unions today?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 10, 1992
DVD release date:January 15, 2002
Cast:Christian Bale, David Moscow, Robert Duvall
Director:Kenny Ortega
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Musical
Topics:History, Music and sing-along
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:parental guidance

This review of Newsies was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byAnnoyedteenguy April 30, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Amazing classic Musical

Man, I havent seen this since sixth grade in music class. We were looking at musicals, and I fell in love with this one. It has hardly nothing wrong with it. A+

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 4, 6, and 8 year old Written bymoviemommy5 August 19, 2009
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

A movie you can melt in to!

I am a parent and I love this movie, its fun and if you watch it with your kids you can explain any part you dislike or really like about the movie. its a very interesting movie.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written bylederhosen96 April 26, 2010
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

fun!

a good movie for bored teenage girls, has all the problems that titanic has: historically inaccurate, the only thing that keeps it going is teenage girls who swoon over the hot(?) newsies. fun if you have time to kill

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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