Movie Review – An American Tail

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Movie Review – An American Tail

Category : Movie Review

Director: Don Bluth
Starring: Phillip Glasser, Nehemiah Persoff, Dom DeLuise
Year: 1986

I was three when American Tail came out, probably a bit older than that when I saw it for the first time, and who knows what ages when I watched it repeatedly & fanatically the next hundred times.  It was a defining film of my childhood, a movie my whole family quoted and sang, a Frozen of the 80s, a McDonald’s Happy Meal collector’s toy extravaganza.  And speaking of Frozen, I still stand firm in my critique of that film, calling it a fad instead of a hit, a film with a weak plot and recycled visuals, a movie whose good music all comes within the first 30 minutes, leaving the rest of the plot to fizzle out on its own.  Now, the more I watch it the more I find myself humming the songs and laughing over the stupid prat falls, but that’s just me being weak.  That doesn’t mean that Frozen is a film that will stand the test of time, and neither has American Tail
Here is an animated version of a story told a million times, an immigrant’s tale of sorrow & hope.  Fleeing their homeland ahead of the brutality of the native cats, the Mousekewitz family travel across the Atlantic to America.  They believe that their lives will be better there, that prosperity will welcome them with open arms, and that cats will be a danger of the past.  But the journey itself is dangerous, and the family lose their precious son Fievel along the way, swept overboard in a storm.  Fievel survives and finds himself in New York City too, but finding his family is not going to be easy in such an enormous place.  The kind little mouse does find help along the way: a bird named Henri, an orphan named Tony, and even a cat called Tiger.  To find his family Fievel will have to be brave, persistent, and never say never.
It was, quite simply, not as good as I remembered.  Some classics you can revisit over and over again; apparently some you can’t.  The story just didn’t translate well, ironic since it’s such a real story; an immigrant family facing the harsh reality of the “American Dream”.  But it was all too choppy, too rough, and not edited well.  The story was a bit boring due to an overabundance of action & music, leaving no time to take a breath, forcing audiences to shut down.  The music itself was still strong, songs like “Never Say Never”, “No Cats in America”, “Somewhere Out There”, and they brought back a lot of memories.  But I didn’t remember the smoking, the drinking, the scary scenes; pieces modern movies wouldn’t even think to add in.  It was just a bit of a disappointment for someone who idolized this film, even though the movie as a whole can’t be called terrible.  I guess it was just better left to the past.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆


Janelle Fila

October 29, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I hate when you watch an old favorite and it turns out to be a dud! I had to stop recommending things for Tyler to watch, because he and Milan thought they were stupid! Unfortunately some things just are better left in the past. So disappointing!

    Olie Coen

    October 29, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Chalk this one up as nostalgia. I won’t say it was horrible, but it didn’t hold up.

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