Making the Grades
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.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about An American Tail.
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?