En route to America, young Fievel Mouskewitz is separated from his family. He sets out to find them in New York City.
Rated G. Broad ethnic caricatures ahoy.
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Fievel starred in a theatrical sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, plus a couple of direct-to-video movies. Grade schoolers may enjoy Don Bluth’s earlier feature, The Secret of NIMH, which uses Dom DeLuise in a similar role.
"There are no cats in America."
Young children likely won’t understand what it means for An American Tail to be set (presumably) in 1886, as the Statue of Liberty neared completion in New York Harbor. You can explain, if you wish, about the late-nineteenth century wave of European immigration into America, or about the Castle Garden immigration center (that predated Ellis Island), or about the pogroms that would have sent a Russian-Jewish family like the Mousekewitzes across the Atlantic, or about Tammany Hall machine politics. But kids don’t need to understand the history to understand Fievel’s loneliness in a strange new place (his song “Somewhere Out There” has been covered by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, and by Troy and Abed on Community). Madeline Kahn (Young Frankenstein) has fun as wealthy progressive activist Gussie Mausheimer, as does Christopher Plummer as the très French pigeon Henri. —