- Directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells
- November 17, 1991 (Kennedy Center) / November 22, 1991 (US)
- Fievel Mousekewitz-Phillip Glasser
- Tanya Mousekewitz-Cathy Cavadini
- Papa Mousekewitz-Nehemiah Persoff
- Mama Mousekewitz-Erica Yohn
- Tiger-Dom DeLuise
- Miss Kitty-Amy Irving
- Wylie Burp-James Stewart
- Cat R. Waul-John Cleese
- T.R. Chula-Jon Lovitz
- One Eye-Patrick Pinney
- Frenchy-Jack Angel
- Additional Voices-David Tate
Fievel and his family head West unaware they are falling into a trap set up by a smooth-talking cat.
While An American Tail was an immigrant story with anthropomorphic mice paralleling human society, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is a straight up animated family friendly Western with any hint of humans quickly ditched. And it suffers a little because of that.
Given that in the last one that everything came from humans, how did Fievel learn about Wylie Burp? The character is his hero. He looks up to him. That is a serious question that bothered me. How would humans know about the apparently true adventures of a dog so Fievel could get the book and read about it? It was great to have Jimmy Stewart in this though.
The power and resonance of the first film in large part comes from it being an allegory to what people went through when they came to this country during the era in which it was set. This does not do that. It is all surface.
Our main character of Fievel kind of stumbles around the story until the showdown at the end. He goes from one series of events to another after he gets in trouble from discovering the cat plot. Beginning and end connect but the stuff in the middle is a little bit on the fluff side.
Fievel is almost incidental to events of the story and his name is in the title. He allows the viewer to see the connected bits, but the connected bits are less about him and more about the evil cat plot or Tiger attempting to reconnect with his love that left him. Maybe have Tiger realize how pathetic it is to chase Miss Kitty all the way across the country after she decided he was not worth staying in NYC for and somewhat tried to emasculate him in her parting words.
Fievel Goes West is shorter than its predecessor. This clocks in it at just a little over an hour while its predecessor was approximately an hour and a half. It is as if they decided to expand a smaller idea into a feature. And thus it lacks much of anything below the surface. For example while “Somewhere Out There” does pop up in this film, it is used as a punchline for a bad joke. The film went for the shallow rather than the deep because it had nothing to go deep with.
An American Tail showed you can do something kid friendly yet hit the nail on the head for adults. You just have to be willing to make some tough decisions. That’s not to say Fievel Goes West is bad. It certainly entertained but it is not in the same league as the original film. It’s a bit simplistic and not nearly as emotional or multilayered as its predecessor.
The animation though is fantastic. I give them that the animation used here is head and shoulders above what was done the last time around. There is some computer work done to give more dramatic shots and probably some special effects but this is still predominantly hand drawn. Art comes from the hand and this is art.
Fievel Goes West is a bit of a retread of the last movie in the broad strokes of its plot. Rather than trying to trick mice into being eaten in Manhattan, the plot of the cat is to lure mice out West into a giant mouse trap in order to be eaten. While in the last film it was a bit more of a parallel to abuse that immigrants suffered here it’s just cats trying to get a snack. Even though he is voiced by Eric Idle, Cat R. Waul is not that different in execution than Warren T. Rat.
One of the saving graces of this film is the music by James Horner. The man was a legend. His efforts here improve the overall work. And that’s probably where most of my soft spot for this film comes from. The man could craft music unlike few other film composers.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is not as good as the original but it’s an enjoyable film. You won’t regret watching it with your children and you may even watch it by yourself. However I will give this an if you want because it doesn’t add too much to the original and will not spark the same feelings as the first.