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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.
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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?
Has your family -- recently or in past generations -- had any experience with immigration? Is there anything in the movie that you can relate to?
- In theaters: November 21, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: January 20, 2004
- Cast: Christopher Plummer, Dom DeLuise, John Finnegan, Phillip Glasser
- Director: Don Bluth
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, History, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: July 31, 2020
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