Tag Archives: Fievel

DTV Wonders An American Tail IV The Mystery of the Night Monster

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An American Tail Four was made shortly after the third one with the same cast, except for Mama’s Mousekewitz’s actor, the same writer and director.  It takes place after the third film and… Why is this an American Tail film?  Fievel is really out of character, and most of the other important things are done by a new character, Nellie Brie.  It has little to no talk of America.  I think this makes more sense as a Chipmunks movie or something new.

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Meh, too bright

 

Unlike the other films in the franchise I actually have a tad of nostalgia for this, since I saw the beginning until “Get the facts” on TV, and like Fievel’s American Tails I had no interest in more.  In fact it is why I did not borrow the first one from Blockbuter when mom asked if I wanted to see it.  My target demographic mind found this opening nightmare scene dull.  Well it begins with a not scary nightmare, with a thankfully good score from Michael Tavera.  Basically Fievel is a coward in this film, and that is one reason why being An American Tail film was a mistake.  At least Dekker is much better at this out of character Fievel than he was last film.  In the morning Papa talks about how great a reporter (Nellie Brie) is, and Fievel wonders how brave she is.  All Fievel has done after all is defeat a corrupt police chief, keep a clear head amidst booby traps in order to solve them, which these same people made a movie about.  Not to mention every thing he did in the first film.  Since Tanya works at the newspaper office Mama demands she takes Fievel to wok so Nellie Brie can convince him there is no monster.  She must do it as Tony got her the job (Tony is later established as being a nobody there), and Tony is Fievel’s friend. Did the makers pay attention to the third film where he eats with the entire family?

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The next few parts at least have some really good mouse world parts like them using a mail chute as a train, and I enjoy those.  It also has some music from the seventh The Land Before Time film, but getting to work takes up way too much of a seventy-five minute film.  Fievel briefly meets Nellie Brie due to some more out of character cowardice, which does not really affect the story anyway.  They meet Tanya’s boss whose contributions to the plot are also completely unimportant besides assigning Brie to work with Fievel, because he wants to bug her, renaming Fievel “Rembrandt,” and making headlines that make the whole town scared, since apparently everyone is seeing the night monster.  After that the boss repeatedly shows up for useless scenes that go nowhere.  This leads to Tony and Tiger trying to sell papers, Fievel is wondering why he got a new name in three out of four movies, Tanya is now always super embarrassed, and  hordes of extras working at the sweatshop in Three are now working at the newspaper, so I guess the strike did not work so well, and Brie seems to love insulting people.  Also the mice built a wall that successfully keeps the cats out.

 

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I guess he was less controversial in the mouse world

 

I plan for that to be y first and last Trump joke.  Brie sings to Fievel “Get the facts.”  She is voiced by Susan Boyd known for her singing and for acting…  She has no acting experience except for extras, and she almost always sounds the same.  Dekker is outperforming her big time.  The writer Len Uhley also wrote The Land Before Time 7 and he takes many shots at this film there, so I think that supports my theory that this was not a fun film to make.  The song keeps saying that knowing details about something makes it less scary, but based on my study of demos that is really false.  Also the song is bad, and repeats the main lyrics way too much.  This is contradicted with “Beyond the Mysterious Beyond” where they instead sang about how mystery makes life more interesting, that answers raise more questions, and we must accept not knowing many things.  The screenwriter is debunking the nonsense for me, thanks Uhley.  They interview a few people whose homes were destroyed by the monster, and many mice have been kidnapped.

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A poodle named Madame Mousey is a fortune teller who offers some sort of essence that will keep the monster away.  I guess the writers wanted their own Scooby-Doo film.  When asked why Brie does not believe in the monster she responds with, “Not unless I see it with my own eyes.”  How will Uhley counter this in Land Before Time 7?

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“If they don’t see it with their own eyes it doesn’t exist.   What limited thinking.”  I now like that film even more.  The show then cuts to one of Fievel’s nightmares about Yasha dying, but the problem is later scenes will feel like a fake nightmare instead of real.  At the next attack Fievel and Brie find a cat’s hairball.

Tail 7.pngIt is then revealed that Mousey is working with cats as a Scooby-doo scam to get rich, while the cats sell the mice to other cats with a mechanical monster (big surprise as the trailers ruined that part).   For “Mystery” everything is wrapped up less than thirty minutes into the film.  Well Mousey is a poor villain.  They repeat the same gags with her like characters pronouncing her name as “Mouse-ey,” being mistaken for a rat, or her getting very angry only to calm down before talking.  At least somewhat smart green cat comes off as competent and fairly murderous making him by far the best villain.  Mousey shows her dominance with a villain song.  fortunately Michelle Brourman and Amanda McBroom wrote the songs, but unfortunately this is just dull, and hard to understand.  She wants to remove Brie, and instead of just using the monster on her at night she leads a direct trail back to herself by telling Tony a spot, and that leads to Brie and Fievel going there.  Well Tony is mad about not being assigned to reporting it (partly as he is not a reporter), and save Fievel and Brie from the monster by dropping a chandelier on it.  They also find a jewel from Mousey’s collar.  Tony hopes they have more chandeliers in the future, as the others note a terrible smell.

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This leads them to the dog park from some sort of thing to do with contacts, and five and a half minutes of screen time later they find out that Mousey is a lost poodle, which… somehow proves she is behind it.  In the process they meet some dogs, and have a song, “Who Will.” Best of the movie, but way too basic in lyrics.  It does however, stick out as the only song of the franchise where Tony sings. The lost dog poster means nothing until they connect the dots based on Tony’s tip coming from Mousey.  The newspaper writes that she is behind it, and leaves the papers vulnerable except for the boss, Brie, and Tanya who stay late to work.  Meanwhile hordes of captured mice try to escape, as for some reason they have not been sold yet.   With machine broken green cat wants to rebel against Mousey (good idea), but she says she is needed to fix the machine, and she will then destroy the papers.  Also Brie is talked like she is super famous, when reporters are not famous.

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They first kidnap Fievel’s family, despite it doing nothing to help them.  Seriously if they did not then Fievel would have gone to bed, and the villains would have won.  Way to ruin your own plans by being pointlessly evil.  Well Tiger and Tony show up, and they decide that Tiger has to get the dogs to help, as in a surprisingly hard to follow storyline they want to catch Mousey to get her back to her owner.  Meanwhile Papa needlessly angers his captures making them want to eat him.  Tony and Fievel arrive, but Fievel insists the best thing to do is get Brie despite her showing no skill at quick thinking, while Fievel and Tony have.  Even worse there was no need to take up that much time, because Tony then just gets everyone rescued all by himself.   He does it with enough water that all of the mice should be very dead.  When Fievel gets back to the newspapers Mousey, and a few cats with the machine destroy the papers and capture the late workers, but Fievel electrifies Mousey, and then a  chase scene ensues.  Thanks to Fievel distracting it Brie is able to destroy the monster by using the mailing tube to shoot some machine parts at it.  With Fievel actually acting like Fievel he easily defeats the only serious villain, the green cat, and the dogs show up thanks to Tiger (a little late there Cavalry) finishing the cats and Mousey off.  Shouldn’t the mice be worried about dogs, which kill mice being in their wall?  A dull brief scene at the beach ends the film.

The songs are bad, the plot is too Scooby-Doo, the mystery is not a mystery, the lesson about bravery is extremely basic, and this might be worse than The Land Before Time 13.  It lacks any of its complex moral attempt and scattered but some good scenes.  It has inferior humor, but it gets its major attacks on its own franchise out of the way quickly, and it is overall better acted.  It also has more complexity in its plot, and it is actually pretty fun to make fun of this, so I think it is a little better.  It is certainly not as bad as The Lion King 2, but certainly bad.  This was a poor way for a franchise to end, and Universal Cartoon Studios quickly went back to the Land Before Time, and a new franchise, Balto. 

 

 

 

 

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DTV Wonders: An American Tail III


 

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First thing is this could be more accurately titled An American Tail I 1/2, as they made the very understandable choice to be a sequel in New York instead of the Wild West.  Fievel’s American Tails was a TV show that came out to directly after the second movie, and it stank.  Also the first film made considerable more money despite four years of inflation and renewed interest in animation, so it takes place in New York and is modeled after the first film.   Both the franchises’s wiki and TV tropes says this movie recons the second film, but that is false.  The second movie started with Fievel dreaming of being in the Wild West and being a famous gunfighter, which is way more accurate to the opening dream of the second film than the actual second movie.  That gives it a connection to both films.  It is directed by Larry Latham (nothing else important) and written by Len Uhley (writer of The Land Before Time Seven).

I heard (with an unreliable source) that The Land Before Time Six The Secret of Saurus Rock was supposed to be the last Land Before Time film, and both an American Tail DTV sequels came out with two Alvin and Chipmunk movies cam out within two years.  Considering they went back to The Land Before Time so quickly after these came out I think that production liked making Land Before Time films more.

The commercials are very similar to those in The Land Before Time Six only it has one for October Sky.

Tail 3.png                                 The first song is “We Live in Manhattan,” and this song actually really sticks out for the studio.  Unlike The Land Before Time, An American Tail is a musical, in fact this film got accused of using too few songs.  Also this is a crowd song, and I just counted that four of the forty-four songs in The Land Before Time franchise are crowd songs.  The song itself is really forgettable unless the viewer already knows the plot, as they sing about how happy they are to work, which will be contradicted later.  When it cuts to the family more good news, they got most of the actors back.  Papa, Mama, Tony, and Tiger all have heir actors back leaving Fievel and Tanya as the only exceptions.  This is Tanya’s third actress, so it is not like that is new.  For Fievel they cast Littlefoot’s singing voice from the fifth film and full voice all the way to Nine, Thomas Dekker.  That does not make it a good choice, as Littlefoot like Dekker’s voice is less assertive and more meek.  Ironically Dekker’s Littlefoot in the sixth film is more like Fievel than he is in the next An American Tail film.  The basic plot is first revealed that the working conditions are too hard (they had fourteen hour days then), and Papa is overworked along with most of the blue collar workers.  This scene mainly works due to how it obviously does take a toll on the family, yet they are still proud Americans due to America’s many chances to get ahead.

I love America.

If someone is not an American I think they will not care for this much mostly because it is very American dream focused and loses the parts from the first film about being foreign immigrants.  Also I keep unintentionally playing the game of guessing whether the music is from the first film (“Somewhere out there” plays frequently) or which Land Before Time movie.         

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Fievel, Tony, and Tiger then find a treasure map (and remind me that the old subways were powered by a fan).  Some fans have wondered why Tony is hanging out with little Fievel, but I always just presumed that saving the mouse population of a city brings very good friendship bonds.  They bring it to Dr. Dithering who realizes it is from the Delaware Indians.  His assistant is a fat mouse named Scuttlebutt.  Why do you love names that are so hard to spell Uhley?  First Pterano and Sierra and now these two.  Scuttlebutt’s grumpiness is pretty funny, and they decide to go on a treasure hunt for whatever is down there, but Tony quickly realizes he is late for work, and the main villains, his and Papa’s bosses, are introduced.

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The lesser villains want to fire him, but the main one (middle of course) wants to keep him around thinking it will make him the definition of punctual if he gets to keep him job.  Yes robber barons are the villains, and they are mice, not cats.  Earlier mice were immigrants and cats were established Americans, so I guess with the old rich gone thanks to Fievel these guys took over.   It is later established they also took a week’s pay from him, and then shown that they own the police and Scuttlebutt.  Also they have an overly long scene about getting Mama to let Fievel go look for the treasure.  Thus Tiger, Fievel, Dithering, Tony, and Scuttlebutt are going.

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No wonder he hates his boss if that is what he constantly has to do.  At least Fievel constantly encourages him.  They then get stuck in an exciting and comedic booby trap scene, which is probably too cartoony.  The best part is Scuttlebutt giving his boss all the supplies and leaving until he realizes the supplies are a great shield.

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They eventually get through and find an underground Indian civilization.  Based on the pictures I just saw of the Delaware tribes these clothes look accurate except for the feathers.  The chief discusses how they hid to avoid the upper worlds greed from the Europeans, and in a nice touch Scuttlebutt yawns throughout it.  One criticized aspect is that Tony was falling in love with Bridget in one, and in a cameo he was showed married to her in two.  In this film he flirts with Cholena, the chief’s daughter.  I explain this as he temporarily broke up with Bridget, and then they got back together.  The Indians give them a feast, but Scuttlebutt is caught stealing food.  At least steal potentially valuable items you idiot thief.  Oddly if Scutlebutt was not prone to dumb mistakes and pushed around so much he could be a great villain.  This leaves Fievel turning on his American ways considering them to be centered on greed.  Cholena counters that the American Dream is great despite some not “taking it to heart.”  The theme is advancing your own life is good, as long as it does not get in the way of others living their life.  It is very basic to me, but definitely something everyone I know has problems with acting on.

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This leads to the film’s only remembered song “Anywhere in your Dreams.”  It is better than any from two, but inferior to all songs from one.  It does have very good visuals, and the singing voices are very good.  Fievel and Cholena come up with a plan for Cholena to come with them to the surface to see if it is kind enough for the Delaware tribe to return.  Unfortunately Fievel tempts fate by asking “besides, what can happen?”

First problem is the main villains now have a complete monopoly, and when a worker speaks out against the new longer hours he is beaten by the police.  This movie seems to have too much plot.  Papa speaks against revolting and villains somehow interpret it as being against them.  Yeah, how did these idiots get a monopoly?  Well after showing Cholena enjoying New York dressed in some of Tanya’s clothes the main five villains are discussing plans as Scuttlebutt (clearly their second most useful member) told them about the Indians, but the police chief is certain his little army would beat them if they ever invaded, but absolute main villain has a plan that is actually good.  Make everyone think they are being invaded, and they will be set up as the heroes who discovered and stopped it.  Again teaching children that people in authority are likely evil is a good message they have to learn eventually, but the first film already taught it.  They then sing a poor villain song.  William Anderson wrote the first song as well, and he did not do a good job.  They tell the workers about in an invasion from within New York, a young female spying on them, and traitors in their midst.  They also appeal to it being their American duty, and the workers are off.  The police lead them and hand out weapons.  They also go after Papa, as Scuttlebutt told them he is harboring Cholena.

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Well Fievel got his escape ability from somewhere, and Papa gets away.

Dr. Dithering is captured and surprised when Scuttlebutt does not help him.  Next time carry some of the load you bad boss.  Papa reunites with Mama and Tanya saying he will get help, and since help is not Gussie I assume she died between movies.  Cholena is caught, but Fievel and Tony save her by… Smashing a window on the cops.  More on that later.

Scuttlebutt and the Robber Barons put Dithering on a trial to be made guilty, but Tiger (the help) saves him, and blows away members of the mob.  This could be seen as contradicting Tiger’s cowardice in Two, except standing up to cats is no where near as heroic as standing up to mice, and Two just made that character flaw up anyway.  The only problem is Tiger barks at first, which is just a terrible continuity nod.  Papa then turns the workers on the Robber Barons, by pointing out how they have always been their enemies and are now trying to kill dithering.  After escaping the villains send the police to destroy the tribe worried they will side with the workers in an uprising, and Scuttlebutt is forced with them as a guide, and Scuttlebutt and the chief are very funny together.

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Fievel, Tanya, and Tony are taking Cholena back underground, and Fievel always being the hero finds out how to skip the booby traps.  The police go though them, but all live.  These traps are nearly useless.  The chief is certain they will die, but through Fievel’s plan of throwing food at them the police all run off but the chief and Scuttlebutt who is being held back.  Despite sounding dumb the food is nearly as big as the mice are, they are worn out, and they do not know the Indians have no normal weapons.  New plan is Fievel, Tony, and Tanya will blow up the pathway, as the Indians can still return in a future date with other secret routes.  They have little Fievel, nearly adult Tony, and in between their ages Tanya, so naturally little Fievel is given the job of using the match.  Well, Scuttlebutt and the chief show up.  Scuttlebutt is overweight and weak, while the chief is incredibly muscular so naturally Tanya and Tony double team the non threat leaving Fievel to face the powerhouse.  It is no harder than facing Warren in the first film.  In a fine fight scene Fievel beats him hard enough to regain the match and throw it at the fuse presumably killing the chief and Scuttlebutt in the explosion, which nearly kills Fievel.  A universal workers’ strike organized by Papa and Tiger taking over as police ruin the Robber Baron’s power.

This is too comedic of a tone for its dark plot, but at least it has some good comedy and a child friendly lesson on the good and bad of the American dream and economics that only has boring parts in the beginning along with a complex plot that always has something going at multiple angles.  It is not as good as The Land Before Time II.  It has inferior designs due to no dinosaurs and well inferior songs than what The Land Before Time franchise had been giving.  I think it is around the quality of the eighth film in the series.  On the bright side it does not feel like a Disney, but instead a Bluth like Universal Cartoon Studios film helping the studio to have an identity beyond The Land Before Time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why An American Tail is Great

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Over a year ago I praised this film.  I recently have been having trouble really enjoying movies, but then I rewatched this as I do every late Winter, and I had the best movie watching experience since at least October when I watched Wreck It Ralph.  I have known for years this film has multiple flaws on paper such as no clear climax, potentially too much focus on the main character, and being very miserable at times.  I still love this movie partly for these reasons.

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I have heard about this film having ending fatigue, due to having a climax with the Mouse of Minsk and Fievel’s family finding him.  Partly because this feels really rare for my favorite films I give it a pass due to it feeling different, but I also love a film’s climax.  I tend to support making sure the greatest tension is at the end, and that is how this film still works.  While the most lives are at stake in the villain defeat, it is really Fievel dealing with a danger made greater by the separation instead of  hi family.  It also shows makes the later events more sad that they follow such a victorious scene, as that does not solve the main character’s main problem.

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One thing that is a matter of opinion is how many main characters are needed.  Traditionally Disney has mostly used the main character very little and instead focused on the villain and side characters, a system its fans love, and people like me hate.  Illumination does it as well.  Pixar puts its focus on two main characters, and Don Bluth puts the main focus on one character (this film, Secret of Nimh, and Bartok the Magnificent are probably the best examples).  This means that viewers who dislike Fievel will have a hard time enjoying this.  I think he carried the movie brilliantly.  He always fun to watch and listen.   While I have no nostalgia for this film having not seen it until I was sixteen I certainly found his issue (at the film’s end) of whether his family really cared about him very relatable, and like my own troubles very sad.  His main heroic qualities are creativity and  determination (common for Bluth’s heroes).  He finds plans where everyone else has given up and regularly deals with the side characters failing him.

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One part I really enjoy that is rarely mentioned is the wake.  It is for a dead mouse named “Mickey.”  I consider a funny take that at Disney who was going through a big dark age at the time.