4YE’s Big Movie Binge: An American Tail

Credit: Universal Pictures

In Ukraine in the late 1800s, a Jewish-Russian mouse family of five, the Mousekewitz’s, live in a house in a small village. It’s Hanukah and Tanya and Fievel are eager for presents. Tanya recieves a new babushka and Fievel receives a hat from his papa that has been in the family for three generations.

Not long after they exchange presents, the Cossacks and their cat counterparts come and burn down the village and force the family of mice from their home. Many are lost but they board a boat to America for a better life free of cats and where the “streets are paved with cheese”. A storm separates Fievel from his family. Once in America, he tries to find them with the help of some strange and unexpected friends.

An American Tail is super cute. Even as an adult, I thought the story was a good one and the animation was spectacular. It was no Disney film, but that is what made it even that much better. There’s nothing like some good ol’ handdrawn animation to make you nostalgic for the classic animated movies, Disney and non-Disney alike. This new style is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but there is something in classic animated films that new animated films can’t seem to quite replicate.

Also, I must commend James Horner for the songs featured in An American Tail. Everybody, or at least, most everybody knows “Somewhere Out There”. I know in the 80s the song hit number 2 on the Billboard Top 100 charts but there other great songs as well. “There Are No Cats in America” reminded me of something from Fiddler on the Roof. I still have the song stuck in my head even though I don’t know all the lyrics.

Perhaps the only thing “wrong” with this film was after the climax when Fievel ends up with some orphaned mice, gets a bad attitude, then finds his family the next day. It felt strange and rushed but, hey, it’s a kid film. They can’t all be Moana or Big Hero 6. Plus, Don Bluth films always seem to have that rushed ending. The Land Before Time did it too. I think it must’ve just been a staple of Bluth’s filmmaking.

Dom Deluise was a great addition as the fluffly tabby cat Tiger: his humour and Tiger’s characteristics really brightened the last half of the film. I never understood why Spielberg and Bluth never gave him a film of his own. That would’ve been so much fun.

In all, An American Tale is certainly a film that needs to be shared with children and at least watched once as an adult.

Shelby Arnold
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Shelby Arnold

Shelby is currently reviewer extraordinaire for 4YE. She is also currently the co-editor of Arkansas Tech University's paper The Arka Tech. She runs her own movie review blog called Shellin' Out Reviews where she crossposts many of her reviews. She previously was a staff writer at PopWrapped.

Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)

She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.

You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Shelby Arnold
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