THE MAIN IDEA:
A bunch of ragged newspaper-peddling-street-kids organized by a blitzed Christian Bale (I seriously think this joker is stoned out of his gourd through the entire movie) go head-to-head with the menacing and certifiably insane Joseph Pulitzer (played by the menacing and certifiably insane Robert Duvall) and, if I may, hilarity ensues (albeit unintentionally).
Okay. This one's a doozie.
Actually, it's fairly boring.
But ridiculously lengthy.
Movie starts with b.s. intro by Vinny from Doogie Howser about a leaderless rabble of urchins selling papers until ONE DAY, all that changes. Completely unnecessary intro, as everything said in the introduction will happen in the movie. We don't need a pre-film-warm-up for a bunch of shit we're about to spend two hours watching. But whatev.
So the movie opens (again) with Kloppman (job unspecified?) waking up/harassing a bunch of obviously exhausted children (questionable, as everyone appears to be 26 years old). The kids get up and sing about how great life is, even though from where I'm sitting, it looks like their lives suck pretty hard.
The kids sing/dance their way down to the Circulation Building of the New York World. Along the way, two ass-hats named Oscar and Morris Delancy show up to harangue everyone. Jack 'Cowboy' Kelly proves himself to be the unofficial leader of the Newsies by putting the Delancys in their place. He does this by taking off one of their hats (?) and running away from them and ... kicking them and stuff? Mild confusion.
Mr. Wiesel (dubbed "Mr. Weasel" by Cowboy... clever Jack) sells the kids their newspapers. Some n00b named David shows up and complains to Weasel about paying for 20 papers and only getting 19. Weasel bitches about David's OCD and then Jack saves the day (again). He buys David and cute kid brother Les another 50 papers and cons them into being 'selling partners' with him. I've never figured out why Jack does this. I guess he was bored.
(I guess he was stoned)
EVIL MUSIC lets us know that something EVIL is about to happen, and sure enough, we're (the viewers) ushered into the offices of Crazy Ass Joseph Pulitzer who's stroking his (fake) beard and being cold and calculating (+crazy) and asking his most trusted advisors (a guy with FOR REAL mutton-chops, a dude named Seitz and a lanky priss named Jonathan... wow, real Dream Team you've assembled) how he can make more money. More on that story later.
So Jack, David and Les (Lester? Leslie?) go off to sell 'papes'. Jack teaches David a thing or two about lying. Corny shit happens for a few minutes at some random boxing match until Evil Antagonist #2 (#1 was Pulitzer, if you're having a hard time keeping track) shows up (Uncanny resemblance to Locke's Dad from Lost. Because he IS Locke's Dad from Lost).
The guy chases the boys until they lose him by popping into a theatre. Jack tells David and Les that the guy chasing him is Warden (Snyder is his name) at a 'jail for kids' and that Jack was an escapee from said 'jail for kids'.
Aforementioned theater is run by some (fake) Swedish lady named Medda. Apparently, Jack's dad and Medda are 'old friends'. Shenanigans. Anyways, Medda sings some skank-tacular song and by the time they leave the theatre, night has fallen on Gotham.
Coming out of the theater, important plot shit and character development occurs. Jack tells David and Les that his parents are out in Santa Fe looking for a ranch for the whole fam-damily to live on. Les is impressed, and David... well... that kid's got ridonkulous facial expressions, so we're not sure what he’s thinking. The boys then have a run-in with the Fuzz and a group of on-strike trolley workers. Jack apparently loves violence and is delighted by all the burning torches and general ass-kickery happening. David apparently is a sissy and wants to GTFO of the streets and back home to Mom and Dad Jacobs. Les apparently has narcolepsy and is asleep.
At the Jacob's apartment, Jack is introduced to Mom, Dad and David's booberific sister Sarah. The family has an adorable dinner together. Jack brags about how good he is at selling papers and casts his charm spell on the whole family. And they eat cake. Really.
After dinner, David and Jack talk about how David's dad was fired from his job at the factory for getting hurt. David acts like this is really unfair. I'd fire his ass, too if he COULDN'T DO HIS JOB ANYMORE. In a fit of foreshadowing (haha, I like that phrase), David says, "He's got no union to protect him."
Jack leaves the Jacob's and sings a mopey song about families and Sante Fe. He also does a hilarious dance. Then he goes home. To the Newsboys Lodging House. To be further harassed by Kloppman, I guess.
An Evil Meeting happens with Pulitzer and the Dream Team. Pulitzer isn't making enough money to pay for his lavish lifestyle (okay, he actually is, he's just ultra greedy). Prissy Jonathan (or 'Pronathan' from now on) suggests that Pulitzer raise the price the Newsies pay for their papers. Pulitzer laughs maniacally and gives Pronathan's idea two thumbs way up.
The next day at the Distribution Center (Circulation Building, whatevs), the boys find out about the price jack-up and are TICKED. Especially the kid with they eye patch. Jack squints (so we know he's thinking) and says that if the Newsies don't sell, nobody will sell. David cracks wise with the snide comment, "You mean, like, a strike?" (David's from the Valley?) and Jack gets the big idea that, indeed, the Newsies should strike.
Momentum builds and all the newsboys decide striking is a spectacular idea to a) DO and b) sing about. If you're worried about how the boys will support themselves whilst striking and not, you know, starve to death, don't worry, their meal-ticket and friendly newspaper reporter from the New York Sun, Bryan Denton is about to show up. He watches the boys dance and sing and stir themselves into a frenzy over The Strike idea. Meanwhile, Jack is sending out various Newsies to the various boroughs to get word out about The Strike. He tells Boots (token black kid) and David that they'll go to Brooklyn to talk to the (apparently) infamous Spot Conlon (Are they going to see a puppy? With a last name?).
David tells Jack to bring his demands to Pulitzer (did they come up with some demands while I wasn't watching? While I was ... blinking?). Jack and Les go inside and Bryan Denton tells David that he looks like the kid in charge (Uh... Jack was CLEARLY the kid in charge of the hooshawjon going on outside the World building). Jack and Les are then thrown out of the building, and Denton takes them (+David) to lunch.
At lunch, Denton brags about how cool he is (name drops Teddy Roosevelt) and tells the kids that they have an important story (maybe... he's remarkably vague about it). Then he leaves.
David, Jack and Boots go to Brooklyn. Or a (fake) backdrop of Brooklyn. All the Brooklyn newsboys are being super tough and menacing. By having a pool party. Spot jumps down from his perch (he's not a dog, sorry if that disappoints anyone) and menaces Boots and David. Jack is not intimidated. I'm not either, that kid is like, 86 pounds. And he's a ten year old. David brown-noses the hell out of Spot and tries to convince him to join The Strike. Spot doesn't seem too convinced. Wasted trip to Brooklyn?
Back at 'Newsies Square' (the place where all the kids go to loaf and gamble), the other Newsies are waiting for the Spot Verdict. They all get super discouraged and pouty when they find out Spot wasn't keen on joining. They even try to tell Jack that they should just forget The Strike. Jack gets annoyed. David feels like he should sing. Maybe to lighten the mood. So he does. Everyone gets pumped again, and when the Circulation Bell rings, they head over to the building to be complete scamps.
The 'Scabs' (kids who are apparently not okay with starving to death) and the Newsies have a rumble! Three Scabs join up with the Strikers and one big Scab (gross imagery) causes trouble. The Newsies fight him and start going completely ape-shit, tearing up papers and causing grief for Weasel and the World in general. Weasel calls the cops. All the Newsies beat it out of there, except Crutchy, who gets caught by the Delancys. Because he can’t walk. Haha, Crutchy!
Jack and David sneak into the Refuge (the jail for kids) where they assume Crutchy has been taken. They're right, and when they tell Crutchy they wanna bust him out, Crutchy's all whiny about how he's hurt and he can't leave the Refuge and blah blah blah. Sounds like a cop-out. Sissy. Snyder comes in the room, so Jack and David scram.
Back at Pulitzer's office, Seitz tells Pulitzer that he doesn't think the kids are going to stop striking. So Weasel tells Pulitzer he'll take care of things if Pulitzer will give him 'the necessary means'. Pulitzer agrees. Whatevs.
Out in the streets, the Newsies are singing all nobly and proudly and shit. They dance aggressively and then have another show-down with the Scabs. Apparently the 'necessary means' Weasel was talking about was to get a huge group of men (with nothing better to do) to come beat the crap out of a bunch of children. But SPOT CONLON has other plans. He shows up with his Brooklyn Power Posse and the Newsies triumph again with ass kicking and sling-shottery and what not. Denton takes a picture of them and gets them in the New York Sun... on the front page.
Denton brings the picture to the restaurant (remember how Denton is the kid's meal ticket now?) and the kids are so pleased with themselves being on the front page (some kind of reward for slacking, if you ask me) that they all sing and dance about it. After they declare themselves Kings of New York in song form, Jack decides that there needs to be a Newsie Ralley.
Meanwhile, Crutchy’s a dumb ass. Warden Snyder is reading the paper and when Crutchy sees Jack’s picture he’s like, “Hey! I know him and everything about him and where he lives and his mother’s maiden name.” So Snyder is wise to Jack’s shenanigans. Or something.
Over at the Newsboys Lodging House, the Newsies (who somehow haven’t been KICKED OUT OF THE NEWSBOYS LODGING HOUSE) are being rebellious and working on plans for The Strike. Snyder comes poking around and some more corny, cheesy shit happens.
The next day (I think. The timeline confuses the ever-loving-shit out of me) Jack is hanging outside the Jacob’s apartment. This part is extra-specially-gay and vaguely creepy. He and Sarah have like, a rooftop breakfast and it’s gay and breakfasty. And serves no purpose to advance the plot.
The Mayor is hanging out with Pulitzer and Pulitzer tells him that if he breaks up the Newsies Rally and arrests Jack, Pulitzer will vote for him.
Oh. And get everyone in New York City to do the same thing.
Oh. And Snyder is there and he’s like, “His name isn’t Jack Kelly, it’s Francis Sullivan.”
And my shit cracks up every time I hear that. I’d go by ‘Jack Kelly’, too, Cowboy.
So the Rally happens. It’s inappropriately gay, what with Medda singing and the Newsies singing and no real business being discussed. The Po-Po show up and beat the shit out of a large number of the kids. The Police capture Jack and all of the Newsies with speaking parts (and then some) and bring them before a judge. The Newsies are fined (Sugar Daddy Denton pays) and Jack is sent back to the Refuge. But not before the Judge and Snyder spill all of Jack’s shit to David, Les and Denton (Jack’s real name, his dad is in the clink, his mom’s dead, he’s a thief, etc.).
All the Newsies are stuffing their gobs over at the restaurant (on Denton’s buck). David is all sorts of pissed. Denton shows up and is trying to explain that none of the papers printed the article about the Rally because Pulitzer ordered a printing ban on Strike-related stories. David isn’t having it, so he tells Denton to suck it. And Denton sulkily goes off to do whatever it is that real reporters do. Which I’ll bet doesn’t involve paying shloads of money to indulge the laziness of a bunch of orphans and street kids.
The Main Newsies (Vinny, Eye Patch, Mulatto, Les, Token Black Kid and David) go to bust Jack out of the Refuge. A carriage is taking Jack to some undisclosed place. David follows, and it turns out Jack’s being taken to Pulitzer’s house.
When Jack shows up, Pulitzer decides he’s going to jaw about the Civil War and responsibility and power for like EIGHT HOURS while Jack stands there TOTALLY confused. Apparently, the whole idea is to bribe Jack to go back to selling papers (and put an end to the Strike).
When Jack leaves, David’s like, “I’m busting you out!” and Jack goes along with it… for a few minutes. Then he sends David away and goes to the Refuge. I guess Pulitzer’s weird diatribe worked? At the Refuge, Jack sings the reprise of his mopey, angsty Santa Fe song. Lame.
The next day, all the Newsies are hanging outside the Circulation Building yelling and shoving and being TOTALLY LOST without Jack’s leadership. David’s trying to get things organized when Jack comes out in his new suit to sell papers. Everyone’s really, really ticked. Jack looks annoyed or tired (or stoned).
So Jack’s out selling papers when he notices that Sarah and Les and David are being completely harassed by the Delancys. Like, David’s totally getting his ass handed to him. Jack snaps out of it (whatever IT was) and beats Oscar and Morris up and decides to rejoin the Newsies.
Off the gang goes to Denton’s house. Denton decides he hates being a responsible adult and will do whatever the hell he feels like and is going to help the Newsies print their own newspaper. Why Denton likes these kids so much, I’ll never figure out.
So they use an old press of Pulitzer’s to print the ‘Newsies Banner’. They distribute it to every kid in the city (what do you know, these kids can actually do something rather than walk around singing and being angsty teens). Apparently the paper tells everyone to go to Newsies Square at a specified time.
All the Newsies are hanging out at Newsies Square at said specified time, waiting for everyone to show up.
All the Newsies are feeling terribly discouraged and sorry for themselves, when lo and behold, thanks to the power of song and… unity, everyone in the city shows up to support the Newsies Strike.
From here, everything becomes terribly cheesy and the gay knob gets turned up to eleven. David and Jack head up to Pulitzer’s office, Pulitzer’s like, “Blah blah, I’m callin’ the cops.” But he like, doesn’t. So Jack talks about power and responsibility (roll reversal) to Pulitzer, Pulitzer has a serious cow, and …
… The Newsies win.
Teddy Roosevelt shows up (I’m not kidding), Crutchy gets out of the can, Booberific Sarah and Jack smooch awkwardly, Jack DOESN’T go to Santa Fe, and the Newsies sing and dance.
• That kid snapping his fingers in his sleep might want to see some kind of Specialist.
• Teaching kids to smoke is absolutely hilarious.
• Teaching them to steal three seconds later = equally hilarious.
• Weird David/Denton dynamic. So awkward.
• Dutchy might need to go to the doctor. From the way his mouth is constantly hanging open, he may need his tonsils out.
• Dutchy might need to go to the doctor. From the way he’s always scratching his head, he might have lice.
• Boots is wearing a Swatch in one scene. You’re about 90 years too early, kiddo.
• Hey, Menacing Brooklyn Swimmer… is that a slingshot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
• David giggles all the time. Way too much.
• Pulitzer’s body language does NOT match the words coming out of his mouth.
• Who’s side is Seitz on?
• If Newsies were Saved By The Bell, Crutchy would totally be Skreetch.
• I bet all the minor characters in Newsies have guest starred on Saved By The Bell…
• Remember ‘Roundhouse’ on Nickelodeon? Talk about a Newsies reunion.
• Really Spot? You went with red suspenders because… ?
• Jack’s fake New Yawker accent makes me gag.
• Jack’s slack-jawed way too often. Needs to go with Dutchy to the doc to get his tonsils taken care of, too.
• Any time I see Christian Bale taking himself too seriously, all I gotta do is remember that he was in this movie.
• He was also in Swing Kids.
• Christian Bale and the girl who played Sarah obviously HATED EACH OTHER.
• David’s TOTALLY pumped after Sieze the Day. Jack even rolls his eyes at him.
• Someone should teach Boots to read.
• Where are all the Johns, Franks and Tommys? All we got are a bunch of Bumlets, Specs and Skitterys running around.
• The kids get more and more ragged as the movie progresses. And it’s been like… three days of striking?
• When I see Specs all I can think of is “Sucks to your ass-mar!”
• Pie Eater and Specs also CONSTANLY have their gobs wide open. What’s the deal?
• Jack’s always climbing on shit. Get down from there.
• The world could have done without Les.
• And 92% of the other characters in this movie.
• Is Snitch mildly retarded?
• Teaching kids to steal horses is also hilarious.
• Whoever choreographed the Santa Fe dance should be taken out back and shot. I’m looking at you, Kenny Ortega.
• Hehe, the actor who plays Kid Blink is named Trey Parker. Can you create an episode of South Park for us?
• Trey Parker was in EYC! Ha!
• I had an EYC cd. I wonder if I still do…
CHECK OUT THE COVER:
A shining example of Christian Bale's gaping pie hole.