nostalgia necessities: AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST (1991)
Proof that Disney doesn’t have a monopoly on fun, energetic, musical, nostalgia-worthy pictures, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is a joyous and oftentimes hilarious ride from the Bronx to Green River, Wyoming. First thing’s first — I haven’t seen the first American Tail movie. I, like everyone else, have of course heard the anthem “Somewhere Out There” countless times, but I’ve never seen the 1986 original. What I do know, though, is that this sequel features a stellar voice cast — Dom DeLuise (hysterical!), John Cleese (despicable!), and, you heard right, Jimmy Stewart as Sheriff Wylie Burp. And aside from featuring a few surprisingly great musical numbers (Cathy Cavadini is lovely on the vocals for both “Dreams to Dream” and “The Girl I Left Behind”), this movie is somehow still funny to me as an adult.
Chalk it up to my now-ability to appreciate the fact that James Stewart is in this sort of movie (and that it’s his last film performance) and that DeLuise’s character Tiger delivers some pretty gut-busting lines throughout the movie — the “How… do you do?,” the barking lessons, and, of course, the Lazy Eye. And then there’s the strange occurrence of Amy Irving playing the New Yawkese seductress Miss Kitty, while her recent ex-husband Steven Spielberg produces. Gotta love behind-the-scenes awkwardness!
So say what you will about most non-Disney animated efforts, but Universal did us a service with this one. It’s a fun and adventurous western tale with a noble and lovable hero, an endearing and sweet-voiced chanteuse, a silly and laugh-peddling feline sidekick, and a distinguished and heartwarming turn from a classic actor who still had it. It’s too bad the studio didn’t cash in on potential for more “American tails,” since after this one, it was relegated to the direct-to-video cemetery with fellow excellent non-Disney fare like The Land Before Time. But hopefully we can all remember Fievel fondly as the aspiring cowboy who saved the mice from becoming mouseburgers.
Memorable Scene: When Tiger first encounters Chula the spider, his response is pretty entertaining. Thanks again, Dom DeLuise.