An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is the second film following An American Tail. It is set chronologically fourth in the in-series timeline. The film was not directed by Don Bluth, but was instead directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells. It is the first Amblimation film, for Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment. It was released on November 22, 1991.
Because of having different directors and a different animation team working on it, it differs considerably from the first film, in both look and tone.
In the West, Wylie Burp is surrounded by the Cactus Cat Gang, hopelessly outnumbered, but refuses to back down. Calling himself "Philly the Kid", Fievel Mousekewitz rushes to his aid. Wylie insists that it is too tough and that Fievel try to get out while he still can. However, Fievel refuses to let Wylie go down alone. He whips out his pistols and starts shooting at the cats, quickly disarming them and causing them to flee. Grateful for being rescued, Wylie thanks Fievel and hands him a badge. Suddenly, Cat R. Waul appears on a store behind Fievel. Wylie warns Fievel, who promptly turns around and fires a shot.
Mama Mousekewitz is heard calling Fievel for his supper. Fievel's bullet turns into a cork tied to his gun, which changes to a toy gun. The rest of the scenery changes from the West to New York and Fievel's adventure is shown to have just been his imagination.
At their home, Tanya Mousekewitz is singing "Somewhere Out There" out the window. However, their human neighbors throw fruit and vegetables in her direction, much to her dismay. However, Papa urges her to keep singing, hoping that they'll throw something for dessert. One vegetable flies through the window and splatters onto a wall. Mama scoops some of it onto a plate and sighs that this is another night without cheese as she serves it up.
Fievel, still acting like a cowboy, bursts in saying his come to "rustle [himself] up some grub". Mama is displeased by his lateness, but Fievel claims that he had to save Wylie Burp, who was surrounded by the Cactus Cat Gang. Mama calls that a tall tale and sends him to wash his hands, despite Fievel's objection that he washed yesterday.
Papa sighs that he thought things would be better in America; In Russia his violin skills were famous or at least to the point where they didn't go hungry. Fievel jokes that they should get Tanya to sing again. Tanya says that one day he'll see and that she'll be a big star and people will come from miles around. "Yeah to eat", Fievel interrupts. Tanya tries getting Mama to tell him off. However, before she has a chance to respond, a train passes outside, causing the room to shake. Food and furniture topple over and the room goes dark as the candle goes out.
Papa relights the candle and questions why America is called the land of opportunity; "The opportunity for children to play in dirty streets? The opportunity to never see the sun shine?" And with Fievel's birthday coming, they have no money for presents. Fievel says it's okay, he doesn't mind. Tanya jokes that she could sing in front of the gift shop and maybe people would throw presents. Papa laughs that he is blessed to have such fine children and thinks that maybe things will get better.
Fievel hears Tiger outside and rushes to the window. Outside Tiger is following Miss Kitty, begging her to a chance to talk something over. Miss Kitty tells Tiger that he is an alley cat, while she has a ticket to sunshine and is going West. She heard that there was a town there that promises a new frontier and a brand new breed of cat. Tiger asks if there's anything wrong with his breed. City cats have too much purr in their fur and not enough growl in their howl, she replies as they walk along balconies and railings with Tiger struggling not to fall. And although she doesn't want to sound too mean, she says Tiger is even a bit of a fraidy cat. Tiger objects that he's not a fraidy cat and he'll show her. But Miss Kitty insists it's not that simple, she doesn't want a tom cat, a top cat or even a tough tabby. She thinks about how to say it and decides on she just wants a cat, who's more like a dog.
Miss Kitty sees her coach approaching, sprays on some her perfume and asks Tiger to show her he's tough and not make a fuss when she leaves. The perfume takes the shape of a cat, which jumps over to Tiger. Tiger stumbles backwards and if she means this is goodbye. However she insists that there are no goodbyes between them and after all they'll always have the Bronx. She leaps down onto her coach as it passes underneath. Tiger watches her leave and then turns around, saying he can handle it and won't make a fuss. However the cat-shaped perfume appears and kiss him on the nose. Tiger then bursts into tears and shouts for her to come back.
On the street the Mouskewitz's live on the alarm is sounded as a cat attack takes place. The leader Cat R. Waul reminds his comrades that they are to keep in clean and tidy, there is to be plenty of violence, but no eating. Cats start attacking the mice and Fievel watches in horror through his window. Mama tells him to get back further inside with his family. Some of the mice start rushing into a sewer. After almost being attacked by one of Cat R. Waul's cats, Tony Toponi and his wife Bridget, now parents of a little mouse, escape from their home and start rushing into a sewer.
Meanwhile Tiger arrives and sees what's happening. He worries about the mice thinks that he'd better do something. He tells himself that he will be tough and brave. However he then spots Chula and his arachnophobia kicks in. He stumbles backwards and falls off a rooftop into a trash can.
Fievel is also convinced that he must do something and climbs out the window. His parents start to panic, but are relieved to see him come back in. However Fievel says that he forgot his hat, makes a grab for it and runs back out. He turns to hat inside out, causing it to turn into a cowboy hat.
As Papa tries calling Fievel back, a one-eyed cat breaks a hole in the wall of their house and starts emptying out its contents, unknowingly throwing out the mice. Mama, Tanya and Yasha are thrown onto the ground, while Papa is left dangling from a ledge. As Tanya screams "Papa", the cat hears her and spots the family on the ground. He corners Mama, Tanya and Yasha. However Fievel appears behind him and challenges him, pulling his hat over one of his own eyes to make it a fair fight. Fievel find himself less brave as the cat closes in on him. Unconcerned by what Cat R. Waul said earlier, the cat thinks that this mouse is lunch. Before he can touch Fievel, he is suddenly disturbed by a screeching noise as Papa plays out of tune on his violin and yells at Fievel to run.
Fievel makes a break and is chased by the cat. He manages to get inside a circular container, which is sent rolling as the cat pounces at him. As the container rolls down the street, the rest of his family get inside. They roll until they reach the drain lid, whose edge forms a bump, blocking them. Papa orders the family to run, putting the container in a spin. Yasha whose feet aren't even touching the ground tries running too. Eventually they roll the container over the bump and down into the sewer, narrowly escaping the cat.
Cat R. Waul approaches the drain lid and compliments the other cats' performance and says that his part is next.
The container acts as a boat and the Mousekewitz family are sent on a bumpy ride down the sewer. Fievel clings onto the front of the container enjoying the ride, while his family hold tight at the back in terror. The eventually drop down a waterfall and are plunged underwater for a brief moment. When they emerge, Fievel suggests that they go on that ride again.
Up ahead, they see a mouse, who claims to have tickets to the West, which he will be unable to use and is offering to give them away. He tells them about the sunshine and clean air in the West and insists that there are enough tickets to go around. One woman asks if there are any cats out West. He replies that there certainly are and if they have any prejudice against cats they had better stay put because out in the West cats and mice help each other.
The mouse selling tickets is, in reality, a puppet being controlled by Cat R. Waul up above them. He starts to tell them about the leader of the cats, Cat R. Waul, and gets carried away praising himself. He lets go of one of the handles for controlling the puppet, leaving it swing its hand above its head, while he gloats. Cat R. Waul picks up the handle and gets back on track, saying that the cats and dogs even get along out there and that the dog, Wylie Burp is probably the finest law dog in the West. Fievel is especially interested in hearing that Wylie Burp is out there.
The mouse puppet prepares to hand out tickets and Fievel urges his family to go West. Mama thinks that there is opportunity out West and Tanya thinks that they might have better appreciation for singers. Papa agrees and asks what are they waiting for.
Back in the streets, Tiger emerges from the trash can, thinking that his nine lives come in handy. He looks around for Fievel and finds his house empty. He starts to fear what might have happened and then spots a letter inside the house. He reaches in to see it, but gets stuck inside. He breaks holes in the walls of the house, which is made from a crate, for his arms to come out. He holds the letter in one hand and holds the door open in his other, allowing him to peer out the doorway and read the letter.
In the letter, Fievel tells Tiger via his letter that his family has left New York and are taking the train to a town out West, Green River. He tried to find Tiger to tell him, but guessed that he was somewhere with Miss Kitty. He misses him and hopes to see him again. Tiger weeps upon reading the letter, but then realizes that they are taking the train and he still has time to catch them. he runs into a wall, causing the crate to shatter, freeing himself.
At the station, the Mousekewitz family are rushing to catch the train. Mama is checking to see that they brought everything. Papa tells her not to worry, he's sure it will be wonderful out West. Tanya is impressed by an actor and a singer she sees, but Mama tells her off, saying that she shouldn't stare at people less fortunate than herself. A conductor mouse standing next to a human-sized pocket watch announces the stops of the next train, while a human picks up the watch while the mouse clings onto it.
Papa notices Fievel is feeling down and asks what is wrong. Fievel admits that he was hoping Tiger would come to say goodbye and asks if he will ever see him again. Papa asks who he is to know. He agrees that Tiger was a wonderful cat, but a cat nonetheless and some day Fievel will understand. Fievel asks when will he understand. Papa laughs that if growing up was easy it wouldn't take so long. Fievel waves and says bye to Tiger wherever he is and that he is the best cat he ever met.
Elsewhere Tiger is running to get to the train station. He gets chased by a dog, but manages to lose him, as he falls off a building and through a tunnel. However he finds himself walking on top of sleeping dogs, who are woken up by his presence. He climbs up a wall and slides over a roof, escaping them and lands on a flag pole hanging over the street. Down below, he sees the station and realizes that Fievel's train hasn't left yet. However a dog at the bottom of the flag pole starts barking at him and breaks the pole, sending Tiger plummeting into a dog pound. As he lands, Tiger bounces off the doors of each cage, unlocking them as he does so. He unsuccessfully tries talking the dogs into being nice and is sent running, breaking through the pound's fence. Tiger reaches a bus stop which has a "Go West" poster, featuring a man in a coonskin cap. He jumps up onto the poster, posing himself as the cap, while the dogs run past, not seeing him.
As he walks away, he gets spotted by two more dogs and runs towards the train. He pulls at one of their tongues, asking "Cat got your tongue?" After being bit in the buttocks, he leaps into the air and catches onto the moving train (that the Mousekewitz, and (off-screen) Tony, Bridget, and their child are on) that later crosses the bridge over the river. However the dog bites his tail, ripping some fur off, before Tiger gets away. Tiger starts teasing the dogs, before opening the back door to the train, only to walk straight into another dog.
Tiger is thrown off the train and splats into the front of another train traveling in the opposite direction. He manages to peel himself off and climb back along the train and peers into one of its windows, where he sees yet another dog. He jumps off the train and lands in the water, where once submerged, he is disturbed by dogfish.
Fievel asks Mama if they are in west and she replies maybe in New Jersey and they joined by the other mice to sing "Way out West". Meanwhile Tiger is fished out of the water (With some cat-fishes) and he is been spotted by the fisherman and pretends to be a cat-fish and the fisherman throws him out and lands on the top of a stagecoach safely and remarks that his mother "always wanted him to be on the stage". He tries to ask a cowboy on the stagecoach if he's going to Green River, but realizes (too late) that the cowboy was a dog. He jumps off and gets tangled in a net hanging off of the stagecoach, where he is yanked along the road like a rag doll.
While on the west-bound train, Fievel wanders into the livestock car, where he overhears the cats revealing their plot to turn them into "mouse burgers." Suddenly, Cat R. Waul's hench-spider, T.R. Chula throws Fievel from the train after discovering him and lands in the middle of the desert. The Mousekewitzes are heartbroken once again over the loss of Fievel and arrive at Green River with heavy hearts.
Upon arrival at Green River, the Mousekewitzes begin to find a suitable home, positive that their son Fievel would find them once again. Tony and Bridget help set up their new home in a tea pot. Papa helps his family set up a home under a 120-foot-tall, old water tower, explaining while other mice would scamper for a land to live in, a smart mouse would live closer to water in the dusty country. However, Chula soon blocks up the water tower, drying up the river. Cat R. Waul approaches the mice and proposes to build a better community where cats and mice can live together in peace. Meanwhile, Fievel is wandering aimlessly through the desert, as is Tiger, who has found his way out west as well, and the two pass each other. However, each one figures that the other is a mirage and they continue on their separate ways. Tiger is captured by a tribe of Native American mice and their leader hails him as a deity, after seeing how Tiger looks like a rock formation. Fievel is picked up by a hawk and dropped over the Native American mouse village when their fireworks scare and explode on the bird, making his feathers pop out of his body, reuniting Fievel with Tiger. Tiger chooses to stay in the village while Fievel catches a passing tumbleweed, which takes him to Green River. As soon as Fievel makes his arrival, he quickly reunites with his family. He then tries to expose Cat R. Waul's true intentions, but the mouse inhabitants are oblivious to the danger. Inside a local saloon that is under construction, Fievel learns of the cats' real plan before he is discovered. He confronts Cat R. Waul and is almost eaten in the process. However, Cat R. Waul is distracted when Tanya sings while working and is enchanted by her voice.
He sends Tanya to Miss Kitty, who's now a diva, and she reveals that she came out west at the request of Cat R. Waul - an action she now seems to regret. Cat R. Waul tells Miss Kitty to put Tanya on stage. With a little encouragement from Miss Kitty, Tanya performs to positive feedback. Meanwhile, Fievel is chased by Chula and briefly taken prisoner, but escapes. While walking out of town, Fievel stops to talk with an old hound sleeping outside the jail, discovering that the saturnine dog is in fact the legendary Wylie Burp he looked up to back in New York. Fievel convinces Wylie to help the plight of the mice. Wylie asks him to find a dog for him to train, but he instead recruits Tiger to be trained as a lawman and as a dog. Tiger is reluctant at first, but relents at the suggestion that a new persona might win back Miss Kitty. After an eventually successful training session to work on Tiger's skills, By Lazy Eye eye on, the trio go back to Green River to fight the cats, who had scheduled to kill the mice at sunset. At Green River, a giant mousetrap has been disguised as bleachers for a ceremony honoring the opening of Cat R. Waul's saloon. But before the trap can be tripped, the three foil the plot using their wits and their slingshots to combat Cat R. Waul's feline henchmen. Tanya and Ms. Kitty soon learn of Cat R. Waul's true intentions and gets the rest of the mice to get off the trap. But towards the end of the fight, Chula captures Ms. Kitty as hostage, threatening to drop her from the tower. Tiger is enraged and overcomes his Arachnophobia he had earlier by unleashing his "inner dog" to save Ms. Kitty and using a pitchfork and Chula's web as a lasso with the spider trapped on it. Suddenly, with help from Tiger and Wylie, Fievel saves his family (Papa, Mama, and Yasha) and the other mice from the mouse trap and sends Cat R. Waul and his gang out of town by using the mouse trap. The cats fly into the air, then land into a mailbag. A passing train picks up the bag and leaves, and Cat R. Waul gets reluctantly adopted by a cat-obsessed female passenger, just as he is about to plot revenge.
Enchanted by his new personality, Miss Kitty and Tiger are reunited. Tanya becomes a famous singer (although she also appears to be happy with the way she was before by the end) and the 120-foot-tall water tower flows with 9000 gallons of water again, making Green River bloom with 900,000 flowers. As the mice celebrate their freedom from the cats, Fievel finds Wylie Burp walking away from the party to watch the sunset on the prairie and joins him. Wylie hands Fievel his sheriff badge, although Fievel is unsure about taking it, since he feels he is not a traditional hero, but Wylie reminds him that, if it were not for Fievel, he would still be a washed up dog. He realizes his journey is still not over and that one day that he will be a hero. Before the movie comes to an end, a pink flare flashes making the sun disappear during the sunset.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, known as the second American Tail film, was the first production for Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, a collaboration of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, whose offices were located in London. There, over 250 crew members worked on the project, which began in May 1989. At the time, Amblimation was also developing We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, and a screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats which never saw completion.Don Bluth, who had partnered with Steven Spielberg on both the original American Tail film and The Land Before Time, was set to direct; owing to creative differences, however, the two of them parted ways. When Bluth did not have intentions to direct the sequel, Spielberg instead relied on Phil Nibbelink, a former Disney animator, and Simon Wells, a great-grandson of science-fiction author H.G. Wells, to direct the project. The result was that the film's animation style was distinctly different from that of its predecessor.
The Frankie Laine song "Rawhide" is played at the tumbleweed scene of this film, although the version used is from The Blues Brothers. This sequence was designed and laid-out by an uncredited Alan Friswell, a special effects expert and stop-motion animator who was employed by the studio at the time, and is better-known for his work on the Virgin Interactive Entertainment Mythos computer game, Magic and Mayhem (1998), as well as his many model creations and magazine articles for publications such as Fortean Times, among others. In addition to a new voice actress, the character of Tanya was heavily redesigned as well. Tiger had minor changes including the "M" was removed from his shirt, as does Yasha (the baby) and Fievel looks slightly different. James Horner returned to write the score to the movie, reusing old themes and introducing new ones.
Fievel Goes West was released in the United States on November 22, 1991, exactly five years and one day after the release of the original American Tail film, and the same day as Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Although it profited at the box office, the film was viewed as a box office failure as it grossed less than its predecessor; it opened in fourth place with $3,435,625 despite being shown on nearly 1,700 theaters and eventually made just over $22 million domestically, and $40 million worldwide, for a total of $65,435,625. By contrast, the original Tail made $47.4 million in the U.S. in 1986, a record at the time for a non-Disney animated film, and a further $36 million worldwide, for a total of $84 million.
Toon Disney (2003-2006)
Starz Kids and Family
Universal Kids (2017)
The film received generally mixed reviews from film critics. The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide gave Fievel Goes West two stars out of four, with this comment: "Enjoyable and high-spirited animated film that borrows plot and attitudes from classic Westerns." Roger Ebert seemed to have a higher opinion of it than the first film, which he panned, giving the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and writing, "There is nothing really the matter with "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West," except that it is not inspired with an extra spark of imagination in addition to its competent entertainment qualities." Also, it has a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (with a more favorable 62% audience score). Common Sense Media, on the other hand, considered this sequel "mediocre" due to the lack of positive role models and morals.
These days, the film is either loved or loathed by fans, and how they feel about it mainly depends on how much they liked the first movie, because of how different its look and tone is. In general the first movie is more well-known and popular (garnering a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but there are still some who love this film and hate the first one. Regardless of how many may dislike Fievel Goes West, there's still a general consensus that this film is superior to the later direct-to-video sequels, although this opinion is of course not shared by all. Tanya's role is significantly well-received in this movie, even her voiceover, Cathy Cavadini, is considered a highlight and more superior to Lacey Chabert in the direct-to-video sequels. It also tends to be seen as the best ever sequel to a Don Bluth film, since most others are not highly regarded. Although he hasn't been specific about why outside of not being able to follow the story, Bluth himself has expressed disliking the film.
Sequels and spinoffs
The sequel followed An American Tail and was followed by the television series Fievel's American Tails, and two direct-to-video sequels: An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island and An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster (which take place before Fievel Goes West). Treasure of Manhattan Island begins with Fievel talking about a dream about moving out West, which suggests a retcon but could be foreshadowing as well.
Fievel later served as the mascot for Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, appearing in its production logo. There is also a Fievel-themed playground at Universal Studios Florida, featuring a large water slide and many over-sized objects such as books, glasses, cowboy boots, and more. It is the only such playground at any of NBC Universal's theme parks.
In early 1992 Marvel Comics released a comic book adaption of the film, which seems to have been written closer to the original script, including a character named Willy who was Tanya's love interest but evidently didn't make it into the film. A computer game based on the movie was created in 1994. A Super Nintendo video game based on the movie was released in 1994 . A Gameboy Advance video game based on the movie was released in 2002.
See Soundtracks for more info.
A separate album, An American Tail: A Musical Adventure with Fievel and Friends, was released two days before the film opened in theaters to help promote it. This album featured mostly original songs that never appeared in any film.