An American Tail

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
An American Tail Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming tale of immigrant mouse has some peril.
  • G
  • 1986
  • 81 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 16 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Introduces the U.S. immigration experience of the late 1800s.

Positive Messages

Don't lose hope or faith; keep trying, and believe in happy endings. Family is the most important thing, and friends can help you when you need it. Sheds a light on some of the dire circumstances that emigres experienced in the late 19th century.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fievel is hopeful and determined; he perseveres and never gives up. H meets many characters from different ethnic backgrounds who help him find his family. The bad guy is deceitful and manipulative, but he's clearly not a role model.

Violence & Scariness

A village is burned, and cats attack mice (sometimes narrowly avoiding being eaten). Peril on a ship's deck results in a mouse being lost at sea and separated from his parents -- this scene could be very upsetting for young/sensitive kids. More close calls in the city, and Fievel is caught in a fire. Song lyrics mention mice being killed by cats. Funeral shows a dead mouse; Fievel's family believes he is dead (sad). The bad guy and his giant mechanical mouse could be scary to very little kids.

Sexy Stuff

Young mice share a kiss. Buxom pigeons represent the French bird female population.


"Shut up," "pipe down," "runt," "Geez, Louise."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Honest John drinks to excess at a wake. A mouse hiccups after drinking sparkling wine. Characters smoke cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that An American Tail is a great introduction to the 19th-century U.S. immigration experience for young children. Although it's ultimately a feel-good story, the main character -- a young mouse named Fievel -- spends much of the film trying to find his family, whom he was separated from during a scary storm at sea. He faces many perils, including a fire, a near-drowning, and attacks from monstrous cats, during his journey, which may prove too much for the youngest viewers. Scenes of his family mourning his presumed death could also be upsetting for sensitive viewers, and there's a frightening mechanical mouse. Expect cigar smoking and a little bit of drinking; young mice share a kiss, and there are a couple of uses of "shut up," "runt," and the like. Messages focus on perseverance and the importance of family, and Fievel is a brave, optimistic character.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAllishinca August 28, 2011

Enjoyable Movie with many Cultural Influences

An American Tail provides an educational and interesting view on immigration in the late 1800s. However, many parts in the movie and even the first song in the... Continue reading
Adult Written byNormalMom April 28, 2009
Was trying to decide whether or not to let my 6-yr. old see it, was on the fence, and then decided not to after the ominous scene of the bug shadows closing in... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bynduns November 18, 2008

A terrific classic

Though unlike most cult classics, this one gets less and less appreciation every year. This movie is wonderful. It's suspenseful, which might make some k... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bythelastsamurairocks August 27, 2015

Hugely underrated

I cannot believe the hate this movie gets. The fact that it got below 70% on rt is an injustice to the people who worked so hard on this film. This is the perf... Continue reading

What's the story?

In AN AMERICAN TAIL, Fievel Mousekewitz (voiced by Phillip Glasser) is a little Russian mouse who emigrates to the United States with his family after they're told that "there are no cats in America, and the streets are paved with cheese." But Fievel gets separated from his parents and sister and is forced to work in a sweatshop by the evil Warren T. Rat (a cat in disguise!). Fievel is resilient and courageous and finds friends (including a kind cat) who help him until he finds his family.

Is it any good?

This is a heartwarming animated tale about the experience of immigrants coming to America. Told from the perspective of an adorable young mouse, An American Tail should engage kids in an important part of U.S. history. The voice performances are charming, and the songs -- particularly the mega-hit "Somewhere Out There" -- are catchy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the scary parts of An American Tail. What exactly makes a movie scary -- music, images, your own imagination? What makes some movies thrilling, and others too frightening? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • How does Fievel demonstrate perseverance and courage? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Has your family -- recently or in past generations -- had any experience with immigration? Is there anything in the movie that you can relate to?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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