An American Tail

 
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Release date: Nov. 21, 1986

Directed by: Don Bluth

Starring: Cathianne Blore, Dom DeLuise, John Finnegan, Phillip Glasser, Amy Green, Madeline Kahn, Pat Musick, Nehemiah Persoff, Christopher Plummer

Budget: unknown

Box office: $84.5 million

A young Russian mouse is separated from his family while emigrating to the United States.

An American Tail is a moving and wonderful film, presenting with an interesting story revolving around Fievel’s search for his family that takes him from the high torch held by the Statue of LIberty to the deepest slums of New York City. Along the way, he meets an interesting cast of characters, some of whom contain fascinating depths which either benefit or hinder Fievel’s search. The only lackluster aspect about the plot is the amount of times Fievel and his family end up narrowly missing each other, with many of them coming off as convoluted considering all the steps needed for both parties to be in the same spot.

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Still, the film stays consistent with its tone and atmosphere throughout its runtime. It’s mostly dark, save for a few glimpses of light, and a majority of the colors are dull and muted, magnifying the predicament Fievel finds himself in during his journeys through the squalor of New York City. Further, the audience is able to feel the despair felt by him, his family and nearly every mouse living under the shadow of the cats who terrorize them. There are few moments in the film where the characters receive any chances for hope or joy. Yet, it works, making it so when the film gets around to allowing anyone to have high spirits, it comes across distinctly.

The characters are also well written. Fievel is believable in his characterization as a young child lost as a stranger in an unfamiliar world. He is too trusting for his own good, causing him no small amount of trouble. The film works to break him over the course of the story, giving him an appealing character arc following his progression from an idealistic mouse marvelling at the tales his father tells him about America to a dejected cynic on the streets. Nevertheless, the film does provide a satisfying conclusion to his tale. Likewise, Tiger provides some intriguing nuance to the story as a cat unlike any other.

This is definitely a film worth watching at least once.

Awards

Won

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

  • Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (For the song “Somewhere Out There”)

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • Most Performed Song from a Film (For the song “Somewhere Out There”)

Grammy Awards

  • Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television (For the song “Somewhere Out There”)

  • Song of the Year (“Somewhere Out There”)

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Animation Voice Over Group (Phillip Glasser and Amy Green)

  • Best Motion Picture - Animated

Nominated

Academy Awards

  • Best Music, Original Song (For the song “Somewhere Out There”)

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards

  • Best Fantasy Film

  • Best Music

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Original Song - Motion Picture (Song: “Somewhere Out There”)

Grammy Awards

  • Best Album of Original Instrumental Background Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television

  • Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (For the song “Somewhere Out There”)