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Pulitzer may own the World, but he don't own us!
Newsies is a 1992 film produced by Disney. It is a live-action musical that follows the story of a group of newsboys in New York City in 1899, who strike against the city's biggest newspapers and their publishers after the price of newspapers goes up. It was a box office bomb when it was first released and severely mocked by critics (Leonard Maltin went as far as calling it "Howard the Newsboy"), but a combination of releases on home video and DVD, airings on the Disney Channel, the Internet, and word of mouth has given it a monster-sized cult following. Go figure. A Broadway adaptation hit in 2012 and was promptly sold out and showered in Tony noms.
It should also be noted that the film was also directed by Kenny Ortega, the guy who would go on to be responsible for the High School Musical films.
This film includes examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: Though only partially, since Denton does help the newsies by getting their story out.
- Big Applesauce: Turn-of-the-century applesauce, no less.
- Brats with Slingshots: Most of the kids use these with marbles.
"And we got a ton of rotten fruit and perfect aim."
- Brooklyn Rage: Spot Conlon.
- The Cavalry: Spot Conlon and his gang.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: By default.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Pulitzer is the pre-20th-century-Robber-Baron variety of this.
- Da Editor: Pulitzer.
- David Versus Goliath: The premise; the original legend is referenced explicitly twice in the film: in dialogue ("What's your name?" "David." "As in David and Goliath?"), and in the song "Seize the Day": "Proud and defiant/We'll slay the giant!"
- Deliberately Cute Child: Jack teaches Les how to use his cute-little-boy charm to sell more papers.
- Face Heel Turn: When the strike looks like succeeding, Pulitzer hauls Jack in and offers him money in exchange for him giving up on the strike. Jack's not interested until Pulitzer threatens Jack's friend and co-leader, David, and David's family; then he caves, and is later seen wearing new clothes and selling Pulitzer's papers. It doesn't last. (This is one aspect of the story that comes more or less straight from the historical record.)
- A Friend in Need
- The Gambling Addict: Racetrack is unashamedly addicted to gambling.
Racetrack: Remember that hot tip I told you about?
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Crutchy, rather pleased with a bit of mischief, tells Jack he's done something to Snyder's sauerkraut. What color is sauerkraut, and what could a mischievous teenage boy do to it in order to get back at somebody?
- Historical Domain Character: Theodore Roosevelt, Governor of the State of New York.
- "I Am" Song: The newsies collectively get one in the opening number, "Carrying the Banner", which explains their working life:
- "I Want" Song: Jack's solo "Santa Fé":
Santa Fé, are you there?
- Kid Hero: Also by default.
- Meaningful Echo: "Headlines don't sell papes. Newsies sell papes."
- Mouthy Kid: The cast is made of these.
- Nickelodeon: Has two weird connections to this movie. Several actors would go on to appear in Snick's sketch comedy show Roundhouse, and Rocko's Modern Life would parody this movie in one episode as "Garbage Strike: The Musical".
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Many of the newsies.
- Out-of-Character Moment: One of the Delanceys initially acts offended by his brother threatening to beat up David, indicating that he has Hidden Depths (or at least standards). Within minutes though, he helps harass David and his family along with his brother and not seeming the least bit conflicted or hesitant about it.
- It's actually far more likely that Morris just didn't want Oscar telling Jack about their plans, as it would up the odds of Jack getting in their way.
- Parental Abandonment: All of the newsies except David and his little brother, Les, are either orphans or otherwise effectively parentless.
- Plot Induced Stupidity: Jack specifically tells Denton not to put his picture in the paper, but later when he whips his camera out and takes a picture of all the newsies, Jack doesn't duck down or cover his face or even move so as to make it blur. This leads to trouble when Warden Snyder sees the picture and figures out that "Francis Sullivan" is now using the name "Jack Kelly". Of course, the subsequent plot is dependent on this happening, but why didn't they just have Jack be taken by surprise? Instead, he sees the camera and even points it out to the others.
- Police Are Useless: Right up until the very end of the film.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: "Poor orphans and runaways, the newsies were a ragged army, without a leader, until one day all of that changed..."
- Stealth Pun: Evil Old Pulitzer's newspaper is named The World. They milk the hell out of this ("and the world will know! And the Journal, too!") (also see the page quote).
- There's also a part where Pulitzer is on a rant about the good old days and says, "Now when I created the World--" Even his cronies snicker.
- The Theme Park Version: Of the late-19th-century labor movement. The real thing involved a lot more violence, a lot more theory connecting strikes to the state of society, and not quite as many musical numbers.
- Triumphant Reprise: The World Will Know!
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There really was a newsboys' strike in 1899, and most of the newsies' nicknames are taken from contemporary records.