Directed by choreographer Ortega, this Disney musical is based on a strike of 1899, in which New York's newsboys rallied against press baron Joseph Pulitzer (Duvall). It espouses the Great Man theory of history, with dynamic young tearaway Jack Kelly (Bale) galvanising the masses with his sheer charisma, sullen jeans-ad looks, and middling ability to carry a tune. If you have a soft spot for feisty, back-talking bambini with cute squints, backwards caps and names like Crutchy, Dutchy and Bumlets, your heart will melt. Frighteningly adept attention-grabbers to a lad, these nouveaux Dead End Kids gambol to a brassy, forgettable score; the anachronistic proto-hip-hop touches rankle, though Jack Feldman's lyrics provide the odd witty touch. Not quite Matewan with tunes; more like Oliver! without them.