Everywhere I look as a Disney fan I see Newsies! D23 wants me to know about Newsies, the Tonys are raving about Newsies, and clearly some of the bigger Disney watchdogs on Twitter love Newsies. Now part of this is the success of the recent Broadway musical production of this story. And this revival is leading to new or refreshed interest in Newsies. And since I had never seen it, some of you gasped I’m sure, I manned up and took on this two hour musical adventure. There is something about that sentence that does not seem right!
Set during the Newsboys Strike of 1899, Christian Bale plays Jack Kelly, a newsboy leader who organizes New York’s newspaper sales force into a unionized group in a struggle against newspaper tycoons led by Joseph Pulitzer played by Robert Duvall. Now I have to admit, I am a huge fan of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight so I was prepared to enjoy Bale’s performance. But allow me to digress. I really enjoyed Pierce Bronson as James Bond in films such as Goldeneye. He really became one of my favorite Bonds with a prefect look and disposition. I mean I even was willing to overlook the stealth car that he was saddled with in Die Another Day. But then the Between Wife had me watch Mamma Mia! and James Bond sang! It was not great (let’s not go all negative here) and I was sad. I really wish that Bronson had learned from Bale in Newsies. Because Bale’s singing and dancing is not great. I have heard several times that Bale does not like to discuss Newsies, and if I had to guess it’s because for an actor who prides himself on his high level performances this effort probably did not meet the standards his holds himself to, especially since many of the boys on screen around him truly were skilled singers and dancers.
So how did it fair overall in the Between House? Well, the female members of the family are very familiar with and enjoy Annie, and so I attempted to sell Newsies as boy Annie. I mean both have a Roosevelt in them how could I be wrong. In their opinion I was wrong! The Between Wife reached for her book and the oldest Between Kid watched but stated, “This is sad!” Me, well I am no musical theater expert. For me Beauty and the Beast is what musical theater should be (and I mean the animated version) and I did not believe that it reached that level. And it’s no cult favorite for me (I will duck your tomatoes)! Hey, I thought it was better than Cats, but I really don’t get Cats! I just see singing cats, I at least see and understand the plot of Newsies.
As I have said in the past, not every movie is a Mousey Movie, I really wanted to make Batman Begins Mousey but I just couldn’t stretch it past Bale. And I won’t write up every movie because I don’t want to be overly negative. I for example do not enjoy singing Gnomes. But I have to admit that though it is not a re-watch favorite for me, Newsies is Mousey:
· Go Wildcats!: I’m going to say it. Kenny Ortega is a future Disney Legend. He has earned that honor and I refuse to deny it. Ortega directed and choreographed Newsies as his initial Disney offering. After a later turn directing Hocus Pocus, he complexly revolutionized, in my opinion, the cable made for television movie with The Disney Channel’s High School Musical and High School Musical 2 (for heaven’s sake I watched the second live as it premiered with High School Musical plates and cups. The older Between Kid loved the first two, but by the time Ortega added High School Musical 3: Senior Year interest in this franchise began to wane in the Between Home. Ortega’s other Disney credits include The Cheetah Girls 2, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both World Concert and concerts such as High School Musical: The Concert. Ortega has to be applauded as he shared his love of musical theater and dance with kids since 1992 starting with Newsies.
· Part of Your World: Ortega should be a legend but composer Alan Menken already is! You cannot argue his honor as his collaboration with lyrist Howard Ashman ushered in a new golden age of Disney animation with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. The list of Menken’s Disney projects is incredible including Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Home on the Range, The Shaggy Dog, Enchanted and Tangled! As much as the lyrics did not speak to the Between Family, I did catch myself and a Between Kid humming the tunes Menken wrote.
· 911: When I was little my dad liked to nap. This was a dangerous choice, as I loved the show Emergency! So to young Between Disney a sleeping adult equaled a perfect candidate for me to try out CPR as seen on tv. Let’s be honest, we are lucky nobody got broken ribs! Kevin Tighe played paramedic Roy DeSoto, one of my heroes who cruised around saving the innocent on a weekly basis, and teaching me how to save my sleeping father. Tighe plays Newsies’ villain Warden Snyder. Tighe has had a steady acting career including appearing in a TV-remake of Escape to Witch Mountain and appearing on ABC’s Lost as Anthony Cooper the father of John Locke. For my personal safety, the Between Kids are not allowed to watch Emergency! at this time.
· Street Rats: Kelly refers to the newsboys as street rats several times throughout the movie making any Disney fan scream Aladdin in their head! Like in the animated classic, street rat is used to show the low societal view that the public had for the these young men hustling for a living on the sidewalks of New York.
· Paper, Paper: Walt Disney was born two years after the actual Newsboy Strike, so we cannot claim that he remembered this event especially as he lived in the Midwest. Disney did not ever work as a newsboy, but newspapers did help support the Disney family. As youngsters both Walt and Roy O. Disney served as news butchers, selling newspapers and other concessions on trains, much like newsboys. And when the Disney family moved to Kansas City, Walt and Roy O. both delivered newspapers for their father Elias Disney. The Disney boys could have related to Jack Kelly, supporting yourself with the local press. Though they never unionized formally against their father.