"An Adventure Tale for Older Children"
What You Need To Know:
(V, S, A/D, M) Young children might be frightened by shooting scenes, cat falling off cliff into dog pound, Fievel falling from train, an ugly spider who cuts off water supply, fight with a red-eyed scorpion, live cat being roasted on barbecue grill by Indian mice, & giant hawk carrying Fievel over wastelands. Slightly offensive elements include a voluptuous woman pushing a cat into her low-cut dress while moaning; an erotic warrior breastplate; plus bar scenes with saloon girls, gambling and guzzling beer. Although intended as slapstick, there are scenes in which a cat is revered as a god by Indian mice.
A hungry tomcat’s scheme to make mouseburgers out of Fievel and his family by luring them out West backfires when deputy dog “Wylie” Burp and a friendly feline named Tiger comes to their rescue in AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST.
Life isn’t cheesy for Fievel’s family, so an offer to move West is tempting. They live in a hole-in-the-wall in New York City, and Papa has no money to put food on the table. To compensate, sister Tanya sings for their supper: “Somewhere, out there, beneath the pale blue light. Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight. . . someone’s saying a prayer that we’ll find each other. . . .”
When a neighbor’s tomato smacks the wall of their burrow, Mama quickly scoops it up onto dinner plates. As the mice gratefully settle down to eat dinner, the rattle of a passing train causes them to reminisce about Russia, and the life they left behind.
The next day, a well-dressed mouse preaching from a soapbox offers train tickets to go West. What appears to be an opportunity to escape overcrowded living conditions is really a puppet maneuvered by a hungry tomcat. His secret plan is to bring Fievel’s family and friends to Green River, where they will be seated in a sardine can disguised as a stadium. When the ceremonial ribbon is cut, the lid will snap shut on the mice.
Meanwhile, the unsuspecting mice board the train. Fievel is unable to say goodbye to his best buddy, Tiger. His papa consoles him, “yes, he was a wonderful cat. But, he’s still a cat. Someday you’ll understand.”
Learning of Fievel’s departure, Tiger treks into the desert to find him. “I’m lost, all alone in a million acre cat box,” he mutters. Tiger is captured by Indian mice who grill him on a barbecue rack. He manages to escape, however, when the chief notices his resemblance to a god etched on the mountain.
“It’s funny how your appetite picks up after you’re going to eat dinner rather than be dinner,” says Tiger, as the Indian mice adorn him with flower garlands and present gourmet specialties.
Eventually, Tiger meets up with Fievel, who has jumped off the train. Having discovered the villainous tomcat’s plan, Fievel asks Tiger to help him thwart the canning ceremony. With a little coaching from deputy dog “Wylie” Burp, the threesome head out for a Green River showdown.
AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST is an action-packed film in which good triumphs over evil. The caricatures are clever, amusing and downright entertaining. Tiger (with the voice of Dom Deluise) delivers some rib-tickling one-liners that even adults will appreciate. En route from a barking Doberman pincer, Tiger yells, “Oh yeah? Your mother was never housebroken!”
Also cute is Tanya, who dreams of a singing career with her pipsqueekish Orphan Annie voice. Given the chance to sing at a saloon, Tanya tearfully expresses stage fright. However, after a pep talk from Miss Kitty (Tiger’s showgirl friend), she goes on to woo the onlookers with a Broadway melody.
Children under ten years of age are not advised to see this film, because of its semi-violent elements and complicated storyline which youngsters may not understand. At the reviewer’s screening, many kindergartners and elementary schoolers asked their parents “Is it over yet? Can we go home?” Perhaps, this American tale is best left to “older” children with a sense of adventure.