The first time I watched this movie, I immediately fell in love with it. Having been a long time fan of the work of Alan Menken's music, I expected great things from this musical. I wasn't disappointed. The music has the energy that is so reminiscent of Menken's earlier works with Disney ('Little Mermaid', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Aladdin'). While Jack Feldman is no Howard Ashman when it comes to lyrics, he does manage to hold his own. The stand out song for me was 'Seize the Day'. The only two songs that in my mind slow the musical down are the ones performed by Ann-Margret.
With live action, it is sometimes hard to choreograph the dance sequences to match the energetic music. Yet Kenny Ortega and Peggy Holmes manage to do just that. The dance routines are a visual feast, very infectious. They manage to capture the right spirit whether there is just one person doing the dance (as in 'Santa Fe') or if there is a huge group ('Seize the Day').
This movie made me notice Christian Bale as an actor for the first time. I found his performance in this film to be winning and earnest. I then saw him in 'Swing Kids' (another movie I would recommend) and it cemented in my mind that someday he would become a very recognised and accomplished actor.
David Moscow (the boy in 'Big') also delivers a fine performance. This is a movie about the boys and it really needed some strong and believable performances from them. I would have a hard time coming up with two other actors who could have given better performances than Christian Bale and David Moscow.
Outside of Bill Pullman, the adult actors were a bit of a letdown. Both Robert Duvall's character and Ann-Margret's were little more than caricatures. Bill Pullman, a seriously under-rated actor, makes a good effort with the material he's given to work with. Unfortunately, the script only allows him to be slightly less wooden than that of an oak dining table.
With most musicals, the plot is little more than a vehicle to segue between songs and the songs themselves tend to slow the story line. With Newsies, the plot is an integral part of the movie and the songs manage to carry the plot forward. This is a talent that Alan Menken has proven he has time and time again when writing his songs.
In conclusion, if you're a fan of musicals, I would highly recommend viewing this one. It does get a bit cheesy and corny at times, but then this is a Disney movie afterall. You have to expect some food adjectives when watching their movies.