A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that grade school kids may be too frightened by the nightmare scenes of the monster, though they will love spunky and loveable Fievel. But older kids will enjoy the action and the historical setting.
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What's the story?
A mysterious rodent-grabbing culprit is terrorizing New York City, but intrepid mouse reporter Nellie Brie is on the case. While young mouse Fievel is haunted by nightmares of the monster, his sister Tanya and his streetwise pal Tony take jobs with Nellie's newspaper to help her investigate. Eventually, Tony convinces Fievel to tag along, and Nellie takes him under her wing. They discover that a phony psychic poodle named Madame Mousey and her gang of cats are behind the mouse-nappings, utilizing a giant mechanical contraption with a cat's head as their "monster." Mousey steals Fievel's family and burns their home, but Fievel and his friends round up a pack of dogs, rescue his family, and capture Madame Mousey.
Is it any good?
For kids, there's plenty of humor and adventure. Fievel and company trek through New York's underground society, meeting Scottish and Chinese mice during their perilous mission, which culminates in an exciting climactic battle and flood sequence. Kids relate to Fievel's fears and learn valuable lessons about cowardice and courage. The story cleverly points out that it's okay to be afraid, because this instinct can protect you from danger, but that our imaginations can sometimes be scarier than reality. This video offers a gentle alternative to most contemporary cartoons, featuring sweet characters, lots of action, some easy-to-take songs, and a worthy moral.
While the original An American Tail contained a strong emphasis on religious, historical, and cultural values in its tale of late 19-century immigrant Jewish mice, the later series entries have concentrated more on action and comedy. AN AMERICAN TAIL: THE MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT MONSTER is no exception, but it also includes a fair share of period flavor and a warm portrait of Fievel's elderly parents. Old New York is colorfully drawn, replete with trolleys and a detailed depiction of the intricate sewer system where Madame Mousey and her gang hide out. The workings of an old newspaper office are also interesting, showing how a printing press and a pneumatic tube messenger system operate. Older viewers get a chuckle out of feisty reporter Nellie Brie -- who employs a tart, Katharine Hepburn-ish accent -- and her wisecracking romantic comedy-like relationship with her irritable editor. And movie buffs are amused by a nod to the classic Odessa Steps sequence from The Battleship Potemkin.
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