An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

1991, G, 75 min. Directed by Phil Nibbelink, Simon Wells. Voices by John Cleese, Dom DeLuise, Phillip Glasser, Amy Irving, Jon Lovitz, James Stewart.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Nov. 29, 1991

In Fievel Goes West, the Steven Spielberg-produced American Tail saga picks up where the first one left off. The original followed the Jewish immigrant mouse family, the Mousekewitzes, as they fled the Russian cat pogroms and journeyed to America because they had heard that the streets were paved with cheese. Part 2 finds them in their New York tenement, still struggling for their daily Brie and still tormented by the cat oppressors. When the wily schemer Cat R. Waul (Cleese) sells them a bill of goods about the new frontier, the Mousekewitzes buy their train tickets and hop on board. But it's all a cat-astrophic ruse to assemble all the gullible vermin out West, build a better mousetrap and then scatter their tasty bones like tumbleweed. Along the way there are some colorful side characters like Fievel's best friend, a cat named Tiger (DeLuise), who's a dead ringer for Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion; Tiger's lady love Miss Kitty (Irving); a spider named Chula (Lovitz); and a worn-out drunk of a sheriff, Wylie Burp (Stewart). The main problem with Fievel Goes West is that there's very little plot. The whole thing is basically a string of episodic non-events that have no dramatic thrust. It's something that even the children in the audience seem to notice. There's no climax, no identifiably scary parts, no clear beginning, middle or end. And unlike the first American Tail, the music here is pretty feeble. The animation is adequate but unexceptional; the foregrounds are expressive but the backgrounds are bland and uninspired. The movie has constant activity but minimal objectives. “Noisy” is the word Siskel and Ebert used repeatedly while reviewing this movie and I can't come up with anything more descriptive. Kids are likely to exit not knowing what to make of this movie: there's nothing really likable about it, though there's nothing patently dislikable about it either.

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An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Phil Nibbelink, Simon Wells

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