Episode #40: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Listen to Episode 40 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.
SUMMARY - In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Fievel and his family are struggling to find their place and make ends meet in New York. The recent cat attacks also lead them to believe they need a change of pace. They are told of a place out west where cats and mice live in harmony, so they hop on a train for a whole new adventure.
Screenplay by Flint Dille; Directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells, and released on November 22, 1991.
First off, we were disappointed to see that there were no coming attractions on the VHS copy we watched. That makes three VHS movies in a row with absolutely no previews. This one came from McDonalds as part of a promotion as you can see on the sticker.
10% off Jurassic Park, We're Back, or others was maybe an okay deal, but clearly these rebates were never used.
Jumping into the movie itself, it becomes immediately clear that the animation team was held to a higher standard than in the original.
Background characters aren't completely static anymore and the camera will move around, like this circular, rotating shot around Wylie Burp (played by James Stewart in his last role).
We wish we could say the same about the story. Sure, it's a cartoon, but it's strange that the animals are so dumb at times like how they truly believe that this marionette is a real mouse.
Or how quick they are to believe that cats will not actively try to eat them if they move out west.
Speaking of cats that don't eat mice, we lamented that Tiger's character and subplot got turned into a straight-up Looney Tunes rip-off. Talking animals aside, the rest of the movie is somewhat grounded in its own reality.
Tiger seems to consistently break the rules of the world that's been set up for us. It's weird and also unoriginal.
Anyway, Fievel gets separated and assumed dead and once again the family doesn't seem to care that much.
We talk about some of the parts of the movie that haven't aged well (and also go into the NSFW single frame that wasn't removed from the picture until the 21st century. We will not be displaying it here, but you can search YouTube)
There's a comparatively long training montage where Wylie Burp trains Tiger how to be a dog and fight against the cats. It's probably longer than the actual battle that comes after.
A simple ear adjustment is all that's needed to fool everyone.
But we're talking about animals that literally built their own mousetrap and couldn't tell what it was.
The voice acting is mostly solid. John Cleese as the Cat R. Waul works well. Jon Lovitz as the spider Chula makes an odd choice of doing a goofy voice that can be a tiny bit tough to understand in parts.
Awards Talk: The film earned a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Song "Dreams to Dream." It fails to capture the same magic as "Somewhere Out There," though.
TRUE CRIME & POP CULTURE
This week we don't have any true crime segment to talk about (it is a kid's movie, after all) so we jump right into music.
Here are your Billboard Top 5 Songs for the week
When A Man Loves A Woman - Michael Bolton
Cream - Prince and the New Power Generation
Set Adrift A Memory Bliss - PM Dawn
It’s So Hard to So Goodbye to Yesterday - Boyz II Men
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started - Bryan Adams
Moving on to TV, here is what you may have been watching if you didn't go to the movies.
We also discussed an episode of the Carol Burnett Show guest starring Christopher Reeves. Here is a clip from that show.
Lastly, we talked about how this is the first movie we've covered that has a direct video game adaptation (it will not be the last). Here's a video showcasing all the game has to offer courtesy of NintendoComplete.
RANKINGS & RATINGS
Nikki 1-5 star scale - 2 out of 5
Jon 0-4 star scale - 2 out of 4
Would you watch it again? - Nikki would watch the first one again, but not this lesser sequel. Jon didn't mind the revisit after decades have passed, and while he appreciated the improved animation, he couldn't get past the lackluster plot and mismanaged tone of the film. Maybe just listen to the original movie's soundtrack instead.
If you want to watch The Unborn, as of this recording in November 2021, it’s available on Starz, Digital Rental, VHS, DVD. Check your local listings.
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