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Still shot from the movie: An American Tail.

An American Tail

Fievel Mousekewitz and his mouse family set sail for America in the delightfully animated film about Russian immigrants.

Overall Grade: A-
Violence: B-
Sexual Content: B+
Language: A-
Drugs/Alcohol: C+
Release Date: 21 Nov 1986
Run Time: 80
MPAA Rating: G

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In-Depth Review

Fievel Mousekewitz and his mouse family set sail for America in the delightfully animated film, An American Tail. Boarding the ship, this little family of Russian immigrants assumes their troubles are behind them. But the ocean crossing turns tragic when Fievel (Laura Carson/Phillip Glasser) is washed overboard during a violent storm. Days later he drifts ashore beneath the Statue of Liberty in a glass bottle boat. With the help of some smartly dressed pigeons and a street-wise friend (Pat Musick), Fievel searches for his family among the newly arrived refugees packed on the New York shoreline.

Meanwhile, the local mice, terrorized by the pier cats and their leader, Warren T. Rat (John Finnegan), organize a rally under the direction of Gussie Mausheimer (Madeline Kahn). Together they construct a "secret weapon" to drive the cats out of the country forever. But the whole plan threatens to fall apart when Fievel is captured by the Rat and his cohorts (Will Ryan, Dom DeLuise).

Along the way Fievel encounters the likes of Honest John (Neil Ross), an inebriated mouse whose character is anything but reputable and an orange tabby named Tiger (Dom Deluise) whose rough start on the streets of New York has put him in some unsavory company. Only after spending time together does this unlikely cat and mouse team discover their similarities and develop a friendship.

This heartwarming story of a little mouse and his family (by renowned director Don Bluth) gives children a touching glimpse of the dreams that brought thousands of immigrants flooding to America during the 1800s. And it depicts the hardships many endured upon their arrival. Along with the history lesson, Bluth presents the story of the young mouse's struggle towards manhood and the strength of family ties. That love is beautifully captured in the movie's theme song, Somewhere Out There. Despite some scary clashes between mice and hungry cats (parents will want to be close at hand for younger viewers), this film is a tale worth seeing.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

A mouse family leaves Russia to immigrate to America where they learn to rely on each other and their fellow refugees to overcome their challenges.

Violence: B-
Homes are burned and destroyed by soldiers, mouse family has to leave home, cats chase and try to eat mice, violent ocean storm washes mouse overboard, mouse is lost from family, mouse is kidnapped by male character, mouse nearly injured in accident with train and with horse, mouse falls in machine, objects are thrown at mouse who falls out of a window, mouse chased by alley cats and captured, object falls and almost hits mouse, mouse enters scary neighborhood, mouse hits assailants with object, male character hit with slingshot, cats chase mice on pier, fireworks shoot at cats, gasoline spills and starts fire, mouse is hurt in fire.

Sexual Content: B+
At least two scenes of kissing between a young unmarried couple (of mice), scene with male mouse in tub, kissing between married mouse couple.

Language: A-
Mild name calling.

Alcohol / Drug Use: C+
Character in bar is drunk and on at least one other occasion, male character offers female character a drink, male character burps alcohol in face of young mouse, secondary character smokes cigars and drinks alcohol, other character comments about ill effects of smoking.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

For many early immigrants, the reality of life in America was far from the golden promises they had envisioned. How is that evidenced in the Mousekewitz’ expectations about no cats in America, and the loss of a loved one during the journey? What other sacrifices did early arrivals make in their new homeland?

Many of Fievel’s misfortunes were the result of his own choices. Do you think he suffered from poor judgment or willful disobedience? Would listening to his parents have helped him avoid some of his problems? In the end, what did he learn from his adventures?

Video alternatives

For other films that portray a young man’s desire to be mature and independent, see the Australian film, The Man From Snowy River, or the animated Lady And The Tramp 2.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes:  An American Tail

Release Date: 4 March 2014

An American Tail release to home video (Blu-ray/Ultraviolet Digital Copy) with the following extras:

- Somewhere Out There Sing-Along

- Theatrical Trailer

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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