An American Tail (1986)

american tail poster 1986 movie don bluth
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great non-Disney film, Somewhere Out There

Underuses some voice actors

Movie Info

Movie Name:  An American Tail

Studio:  Amblin Entertainment

Genre(s):  Animated/Musical/Family

Release Date(s):  November 21, 1986

MPAA Rating:  G


The land of opportunity!

Fievel, his father, his mother, and sister Tanya find times in Russia growing more and more dangerous with cats roaming the streets. The tales of America with streets paved with cheese and no cats convince the Mousekewitzes to make the journey to the New World. When Fievel is lost at sea the family mourns, but also finds the truth of America is greatly exaggerated. Fievel has survived and with some help in New York trying to find his missing family. When New York is revealed to be ruled by cats, Fievel helps to find a way to rid the city. A rat named Warren T. Rat is keeping a secret from the mice that could change the face of the war. Will Fievel ever find his family?


I kind of just want to smack Fievel at this point…

Directed by Don Bluth with backing from Steven Spielberg, An American Tail was well-reviewed when it was released in the theaters. The movie originally faced some plagerism threats from Art Spiegelman who threatened to sue in regards to his book Maus which was being released (also starring immigrant mice). Spiegelman decided not to sue and released Maus in two parts as a result. The film featured the voices of Phillip Glasser, Nehemiah Persoff, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Plummer and Dom DeLuise and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song for “Somewhere Out There” (which lost to “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun).


I’m right over here Tanya! Can’t you see me?

An American Tail is a nice movie. The story actually has a lot of depth to it by paralleling the lives of the Mousekewitzes to real immigrants at the time and what America meant to the people coming there. The stories of a better life were actually lies or mistruths, but it can be argued that these rumors of a better world forced immigrants to shape America the land of their dreams. Fievel’s story kind of parallels this belief and is a good lesson for kids.

The movie is aided by likeable characters in Fievel. I think Dom DeLuise as Tiger the vegetarian cat is a little overbearing (I always thought that about DeLuise in general), and Christopher Plummer and Madeline Kahn are both underused as Henri and Gussie Mausheimer. The core Mausekewitzes family however does sell the story.


Reunited…and it feels so good…

In addition to great good leading characters, the movie’s animation is rather strong. The animal characters are done in traditional animation, but the human figures were created through rotoscoping. When compared with Disney films from the same period, the art is rather shark and strong.

An American Tail also provided (in my opinion) one of the strongest animated film movie songs at the time. I don’t necessarily love the song within the movie but the Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram radio version shows the strength of the lyrics. It didn’t win in the Oscars, but it was also a strong year with the popular Top Gun song, Little Shop of Horrors “Mean Green Mother from Outer Space”, and The Karate Kid, Part II’s “Glory of Love” all being among the nominees.

When An American Tail was released Disney was struggling. The movie beat The Great Mouse Detective and showed that a non-Disney cartoon could make a mark. Bluth followed this animated film in 1988 with The Land Before Time which also started a franchise. An American Tail was followed by An American Tail: Fievel Goes West in 1991 without Bluth’s involvement.

Related Links:

An American Tail:  Fievel Goes West (1991)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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