(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Newsies. The song "Carrying the Banner" plays in the background)
Doug (vo): By popular demand, Newsies. Talk about a movie people either love or hate. Many of the people I've talked to usually have a strong opinion about this movie. It wasn't a critical hit, it wasn't really a box office hit either, but it's gotten a little bit of a cult following over the years, mostly among girls and young women. The majority of other people seem to really find it annoying and obnoxious. And...yeah, I'd be lying if I said I didn't kinda feel that way, too. But, I don't think it's as black and white as others are making it out to be. It's not something to be ignored or hated. It is something to look at.
Doug (vo; speaks in an over-exaggerated Manhattan New York accent): It's ol' town New York, an' a bunch of orphan boi's... (Speaks normally) Okay, I'm not gonna talk like that, but did you notice how annoying that was? That's part of the problem with this movie. But anyway, a bunch of orphan boys get jobs as newsies; kids that go around delivering papers, selling them, all that good stuff. They horse around, get in fights, they're just a bunch of little delinquents and loveable scamps that you can't help but...question why they sing and spin. Seeing the problem yet? Okay, well, let's keep going. Child labor laws and unions are threatened when the cost of papers for the boys to sell goes up. So the boys, led by a very young Christian Bale, go on strike and try to see how many people they can get in their cause. At first, it gets no clout. But through a lot of protesting and riling things up, a lot of people, including a reporter, start to get involved and try spreading the word. But that doesn't stop an evil corporate head named Mr. Pulitzer to try to silence them and bring them down for good. Will the strike finally get enough speed and change the world of newspapers as we know it? (Speaks in the accent again) Do ol' time New Yorkers suddenly dance to Alan Menken music?
Doug (vo): Well, okay, the answer to that second question is no. And as I said before, that's part of the problem, but not the entire problem surprisingly. This is not a movie where you feel like no effort was put into it. It clearly did have a lot of effort put into it, and it shows.
(Footage focusing on the dance sequences and the characters is shown)
Doug (vo): Really look at this choreography, look at how fast they are, look at how tight it is. This is a movie that clearly had a lot of work put into the musical production part. And even to the story's credit, it's not that bad a story. I mean, it's talking about an interesting part of history that very few people know about. And even the actors aren't that bad, I mean, Christian Bale is a good lead and there's a lot of good support behind him...for the most part, but we'll get to that. The biggest problem of this film is that it is in fact a film, but it's not done like a film. It's done like a Broadway musical. And you might be thinking, what's wrong with that?
(Posters for musical film adaptations like Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago, and Les Misérables quickly show up)
Doug (vo): Hell, there's a lot of Broadway musicals that were turned into films. The difference is when that happened, they had to make changes. They did this because Broadway audiences are different from movie-going audiences. And with good reason. In a Broadway show, an actor really has to project, really has to emote, and really has to act big in order for the audience all the way in the back row to hear them, as well as feel the emotion he or she is going through. That creates a very distinct kind of acting that's welcomed in theater, but kind of odd in movies. Even for a musical, which, of course, we know people don't just sing and dance out of nowhere in real life, it still seems a touch over-the-top for the general audience to get into. I found this ironic because Newsies is now being turned into a (An image of the Broadway cast recording CD of 2012's Broadway musical version of Newsies is shown) Broadway play, and that makes the most sense. I feel like that's where it belongs. But here, it's just kind of awkward and it doesn't really suck you into the world that it's creating, mostly because it hasn't created that much of a world.
(More footage focusing on the musical scenes is shown, as well as showing the film's look and style)
Doug (vo): The city looks like a realistic city, the clothes look like realistic clothes. So when people sing and dance and talk this over-the-top, it doesn't fit. If they did something more similar to what Chicago did where they really bring in the fantasy and the illusion and the surrealness of it, it might have had a better chance. But as is, the majority of the scenes are just waiting for the songs to come and go and not really express that much and be a little catchy. I mean, they're not awful songs. But they sort of have that typical Broadway sound that, for a movie audience, kind of creates a barrier for. In film, you can get close-ups, you can do zoom-ins, you can pan back, you can do all these cool tricks with the camera, but everything is shot at a distance, again, like it's a Broadway show, and that's not what we're watching. So, the over-the-top songs and over-the-top acting would work if it was in an over-the-top environment, but it's not. It's trying to make it look like a historical-looking New York of the past. And if you don't want to see a movie and instead wanna see a Broadway show that has a touch of a cinematic look, then you'll like this movie fine. I think that's why so many girls and young women do get into it; many are Broadway fans. But if you're looking for a better balance, say, like, what Fiddler on the Roof did, this one relishes its over-the-top feel-good attitude a little too much and comes off unbelievably corny.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): So I do kinda feel bad for not liking the film because it's very clear that people worked very hard on it. The music's not bad music, the dancing is good, and for what the actors were told to do, they do it fine. It's just in the wrong medium. And I think those filters really can get in the way for some people. So, yeah, I did find it annoying and obnoxious and I did wanna fast forward through a lot of the scenes. But I know there is an audience for this that can get into that kind of acting and that wonderful dancing and so on and so forth. It's just not me. I appreciate the effort, but this is a story I definitely don't need to read all about.
(One of the film's final scenes, showing the main character, Jack Kelly, riding on a carriage with President Roosevelt while a large crowd cheers for them, is shown as we hear the ending of "Carrying the Banner")