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Another Disney Movie Gets New Life Onstage


Harvey Fierstein Bob Tzudiker Christian Bale Disney Jeremy Jordan Milburn Noni White Rooney The New York Times

Transposing a failed movie musical to the stage may seem like a fool's errand, but Disney's theatrical unit may have pulled it off in the case of Newsies , the company's 1992 effort to revive the traditional live-action musical. Harvey Fierstein has rewritten the original screenplay by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White about an 1899 newsboy strike in New York and Alan Menken and Jack Feldman have added several new songs to the ones they wrote for the film. And -- surprise -- the show, which opened Sunday in Millburn, NJ, is receiving outstanding reviews even from critics who hated the original movie version. One of them is David Rooney of The New York Times , who thought that the movie "suffers from sluggish storytelling, a vocally challenged cast ... and poorly shot dance numbers." The stage production, by contrast, elevates the music "into a story with characters worth rooting for," he wrote. And while it "bulks up on galvanic anthems and slathers on the sentiment," it does so in the "Disney tradition that connects with the embattled kid in all of us." Peter Filichia in the Newark Star-Ledger was equally enthusiastic. Disney, he concluded, "will be rewarded by seeing Newsies endorsed by rabidly enthusiastic crowds that will applaud and holler." That sentiment is echoed by Joe Dziemianowicz in the New York Daily News , who predicts that the show will eventually arrive on Broadway and lift the career of its "bright new star," Jeremy Jordan. "Jordan and the rest of the company of Newsies will give you something to cheer for," he wrote. And Frank Scheck in the New York Post also singled out Jordan for particular praise. (His role in the movie was played by Christian Bale.) "Jordan proves himself a star in the making," he enthused. "He bursts with charisma, and his impassioned acting and soaring vocals give the show heart and soul."

Continue reading: Another Disney Movie Gets New Life Onstage

Anastasia (1997) Review


OK
20th Century Fox tried to break the Disney stranglehold on kiddie animation with a retelling of the tragic story of Anastasia, the lost daughter of the Russian czar who some believed survived the family's assassination. I'm not sure there was this much singing in Mother Russia, but the film isn't overly wretched. Still, the Disney formula is aped to perfection here, even spawning a solo career for singing bat Bartok, in Bartok the Magnificent. Protect your children.

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Review


Grim
Disney's animation studio just about hit rock bottom in 1996, following its worst film ever, Pocahontas, with another weak entry, a difficult adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel.

It's typical of 1990s Disney: unlikely hero (Tom Hulce, as Quisimodo), who falls for a ravishing beauty (Demi Moore, as a gypsy gal), while goofy sidekicks (three stone gargoyles) crack jokes. Every five minutes, someone bursts into song. And yet none of this is kid-friendly, and little of it will be of interest to adults.

Continue reading: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Review

102 Dalmatians Review


Terrible
It's always a bad sign when the core audience of a film -- children -- are either walking out early or are half-asleep when the credits roll at the end of a film. That about sums up the dreadful ugliness of 102 Dalmatians, a cold pea soup of cute animals, stupid Home Alone antics, a boring puppy love subplot between dumb humans, and Glenn Close reprising her best Joan Crawford impression. Indeed, Walt Disney is rolling over in his grave again, cursing John Hughes' name for making the original live-action 101 Dalmatians, one of the worst kiddie flicks of all time, and now its sequel.

The main culprit behind the hideousness of 102 Dalmatians is its predecessor, 101 Dalmatians. The original made more than $100 million dollars at the box office, spawned a torrid collection of "collectible" items that ended up months later in the discount bins of Wal-Marts across the country, and generally made every kid on the planet want a damn Dalmatian pup for Christmas. Well, it's been about four years since then, and Dalmatian fever is coming back, and this time it's digitally enhanced.

Continue reading: 102 Dalmatians Review

Anastasia (1997) Review


OK
20th Century Fox tried to break the Disney stranglehold on kiddie animation with a retelling of the tragic story of Anastasia, the lost daughter of the Russian czar who some believed survived the family's assassination. I'm not sure there was this much singing in Mother Russia, but the film isn't overly wretched. Still, the Disney formula is aped to perfection here, even spawning a solo career for singing bat Bartok, in Bartok the Magnificent. Protect your children.

Continue reading: Anastasia (1997) Review

Tarzan (1999) Review


Good
Tarzan the Ape Man gets the Disney treatment this year. For some classic characters (Snow White, Bambi), the transition has been a positive one. For others (Pocahontas), it's been a disaster. Thankfully, Tarzan is among the former group.

The last time we saw Tarzan, he was saving a Lost City in the worst film of 1998 (shockingly titled Tarzan and the Lost City). The story is a bit more traditional this time, with Tarzan adopted by gorillas after his human parents are killed by a leopard. When he grows up, a group of British explorers stumble upon him, and after the "You Tarzan, me Jane" exchange, the British bad guy, Clayton, decides he's going to take all the gorillas back to Britain for sale. Adventure ensues, along with a love story and singing.

Continue reading: Tarzan (1999) Review

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Review


Grim
Disney's animation studio just about hit rock bottom in 1996, following its worst film ever, Pocahontas, with another weak entry, a difficult adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel.

It's typical of 1990s Disney: unlikely hero (Tom Hulce, as Quisimodo), who falls for a ravishing beauty (Demi Moore, as a gypsy gal), while goofy sidekicks (three stone gargoyles) crack jokes. Every five minutes, someone bursts into song. And yet none of this is kid-friendly, and little of it will be of interest to adults.

Continue reading: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame Review

Newsies Review


Weak
"Headlines don't sell papes. Newsies sell papes."

Well, now telemarketers sell papes, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to see a movie about that. Especially if they were singing all the time. But back in 1899, when Joseph Pulitzer (played by Robert Duvall) and William Randolph Hearst raised newspaper prices, that meant the newsies had to pay more for their copies, and they couldn't pass that along to the consumer. So the newsies organized a union and went on strike. And the strike failed.

Continue reading: Newsies Review

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102 Dalmatians Movie Review

102 Dalmatians Movie Review

It's always a bad sign when the core audience of a film -- children --...

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Tarzan (1999) Movie Review

Tarzan (1999) Movie Review

Tarzan the Ape Man gets the Disney treatment this year. For some classic characters...

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