The little mouse Fievel and his family, who came to America in search of a better life in Don Bluth's AN AMERICAN TALE, the precursor to this film, go on an amusing, if not exactly thrilling, adventure to the American West circa 1850.
We find Fievel (voice of Phillip Glasser) dreaming of adventure in a New York City slum where his family ekes out a miserable existence shared by the other mice in the neighborhood. Along comes a very clever cat, Cat R. Waul (voice of John Cleese), who manages to curb his voracious hunger for
mice long enough to lure Fievel and his suffering friends and family onto a train headed West where cats and mice supposedly live in harmony. Two cats who actually are friendly to mice, Tiger (voice of Dom DeLuise) and Miss Kitty (voice of Amy Irving), also find themselves headed West. Miss Kitty
travels in company with Cat R. Waul, who offers a better life than the fraidy-cat Tiger, and Tiger himself decides to follow his friend Fievel, since Kitty's departure leaves him no reason to stay in New York.
Fievel gets separated from his family when he overhears the dastardly Cat R. Waul's real plans of making a huge meal of all the mice once they get to Green River out West. He's tossed off the train and ends up crawling through the desert where he meets up with Tiger, who has been mistaken for a
god by a tribe of Indian mice. Saved, Fievel is soon reunited with his family in Green River where the mice and cats are working together to build a town of their own. Fievel tries to tell everyone that the cats are actually building a huge mousetrap, but no one believes him. Fievel's sister is
especially content with the arrangements since her dream of becoming a singer has come true. Cat R. Waul and Miss Kitty hired her to entertain the large band of cats waiting for the secret feast.
Fievel enlists the help of Sheriff X, who trains Tiger to be a dog in order to confront the band of cats. The three heros save the mice and Miss Kitty from the clutches of Cat R. Waul's gang by sending them flying onto a train where a disgusted Cat R. Waul is adopted by, horrors, a human! With
the cats gone the mice find a paradise indeed.
Unhappily for this sequel to the popular 1986 original, its theatrical release coincided with the release of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and it didn't manage to hold its own. There are two major problems with the film, the first being that it is not fantastic enough. The cats and mice are
simply men in disguise. They don't do mouse- or cat-like things; there is nothing truly magical about them. The entire narrative is designed to be a realistic story where the poor immigrant hero and his friends battle the clever con man who wants to exploit a group of gullible newcomers. But
what's the use in making an animated movie for children if you use characters and a plot that would be equally comfortable as an episode of "The Big Valley"?
The second problem is due to the choice made by the filmmakers to go for the laugh instead of the gasp, in spite of the plot's dependence on the endangerment of the mice. Cat R. Waul is never an intimidating figure. Instead, he's charming in a raffish sort of way. He never actually eats a mouse.
Why should the viewer worry over something that never seems likely to happen? His gang consists of a bunch of faceless cats and one truly gruesome spider, who is responsible for most of the mayhem in the film, which is not much.
On a positive note, Tiger, voiced by Dom DeLouise, steals the show. He is consistently hilarious with his bumbling and clowning. He has numerous one-liners that easily win a laugh. The scene where he is being trained by Sheriff X to become a tough dog is the best part of the film. But his
troubled romance with Miss Kitty breaks no new ground or hearts. Much the same can be said for the subplot involving Fievel's sister. She wants to sing but her attempts are strongly rejected by the community of mice. Cat R. Waul, however, thinks she's a diva when he hears her out West and he is
even upset when the mousetrap he had built threatens her life. Her sudden ability to attract such a devoted following is never explained--it just happens. The songs in the film are in the same vein as in the first, very sweet and light; no thunderous or sweeping melodies, just smallish pop numbers
and the traditional musical chorus tunes.
The oddest thing about the film is the forgettable quality of its hero. Fievel is not at all a leading man. He just doesn't carry the film. The characters played by John Cleese, Dom DeLouise and even the small role played by Jimmy Stewart are much more winning. The only thing winning about Fievel
is his giggle, few of which he manages to charm out of his audience.
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: G
- Review: The little mouse Fievel and his family, who came to America in search of a better life in Don Bluth's AN AMERICAN TALE, the precursor to this film, go on an amusing, if not exactly thrilling, adventure to the American West circa 1850. We find Fievel (voi… (more)