An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster


Larry Latham


Larry Latham

Screenplay by

Len Uhley


Michael Tavera
James Horner (archive music from An American Tail and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West)


Universal Studios

Release date

July 25, 2000

Running time

78 minutes

An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster was the second direct-to-video sequel to An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island and the final chapter of the An American Tail tetralogy, starring Thomas Dekker as the main character, the young Fievel Mousekewitz. This film was released on July 25, 2000 in the US. The negative reception from film 3 may have caused Universal Studios to cease production on the franchise, but did managed to do the final chapter, as plot points from the third installment are eliminated and the characters that debuted in that installment are off-limits on this movie.

Note: This marks the last role for Nehemiah Persoff for voicing Papa Mousekewitz in a film before retiring from acting to become a full-time painter.

It is also the role for Dom DeLuise as the voice of Tiger before his death in 2009.


Set in between the third film (Late 1880s) and second film (1892), Fievel Mousekewitz, his friend, Tony and his sister, Tanya Mousekewitz all get jobs at the local newspaper, where the audience is introduced to Nellie Brie, who wants to be an important reporter, but only gets small assignments, as if she were a secretary to Reed Daley, the newspaper's editor. Throughout the film, Tanya Mousekewitz tries to win Reed's heart, while Tony tries to get noticed by Reed and promoted to a reporter. Like in the previous movies, where a mouse installation is directly below its human installation counterpart, the newspaper offices the mice work in is directly underneath the newspaper offices the humans work in.

Nellie gets a chance when she is assigned to report mice who disappear overnight into holes that open up on their floor all over New York. Reed makes up a, as Nellie calls it, "so-called monster" that lives under the city and takes mice away during the night to add more excitement to the otherwise unimportant story, intending to sell more papers. The Night Monster instills fear in the readers, as could be expected. Fievel begins having nightmares that cause him to lose sleep because of his fear of the monster; the film opens up with Fievel having a dream about being chased by what he thinks the monster looks like. When, through Tanya, he is assigned the job of following Nellie and drawing up interpretations of what the monster looks like based on witness testimony, this makes his insomnia all the worse. A particularly suspicious miniature French poodle named Madame Mousey, who has started living among the mice about this time, appears at every crime scene, claiming to be a fortune teller. The heroes finally decide to investigate her by means of the "dog council" that meets at Central Park. They also search down one of the holes, which leads directly to a group of cats hiding in the sewers. Also, all the mice that had disappeared are being held in wood cages there, to be sold off to other cats and eaten.

The Night Monster itself, a mechanical device with ghastly flashing pictures and a buzz saw, is revealed in full when it attacks the mice newspaper office and printing press to prevent them from printing the truth, which they had just discovered. A great chase scene takes place throughout both the mouse and the human newspaper offices. Reed reveals that he was in love with Nellie all along, much to Tanya's intense dismay. When all the cats seem to be under control, the "dog council" appears just as they're regaining consciousness and chase them all away, taking Madame Mousey with them. The last scene takes place at the beach, where the audience is told that the "dog council" had chosen for the French poodle (who was the mastermind behind the night monster all along) a punishment worse than prison: returning her to her owner. Mrs. Mousekewitz, Fievel's mother, surmises saying that now that the mystery has been cleared up, Fievel may finally go to sleep, only to turn around and find him already asleep on the beach towel.

Animation style

From the distance comparisons

The comparison with the characters shown from the distance in films 3 and 4.

In comparison with the two theatrical features in the American Tail series, both direct-to-video releases falter in animation quality, as typical for direct-to-video cartoons. On top of that, Fievel's fur color was desaturated even though the rest of the Mousekewitz family have kept their original fur color. Which direct-to-video film has the better animation seems to be a matter of opinion, but this film did do a better job of the shots where the characters are tiny, along with keeping the humans seen from the neck down.


  • Fievel Mousekewitz (voiced by Thomas Dekker): Fievel is the main character of the film. He constantly has nightmares of the night monster trying to get him.
  • Tiger (voiced by Dom DeLuise): The only cat friend of the Jewish-Russian mouse family.

Other Voices:

  • John Mariano - Twitch, leader of the Outlaw Cats / Madame Mousey's manservant) The second antagonist of the film.
  • Jeff Glen Bennett - Slug


  • This is the second American Tail media not to feature Erica Yohn as the voice of Mama Mousekewitz. The first being Fievel's American Tails.
  • This is the second film Tony gets enthusiastic when explaining a fact. The first being The Treasure of Manhattan Island.
  • This is the only An American Tail film not to have Tony Toponi romantically involved with anymore female mice. Ever since people had an issue with Tony's unrequited flirtation with Cholena (who is explicitly dismissed from canon) while his relationship with Bridget is well-regarded (who was absent since the infamous third installment due to Cathianne Blore's illness), this concept for the character is canonically withdrawn.
    • It can be assumed that the romantic attraction is rather given to Tanya since her role is more lacked last time.
  • This is the first and only time Tony is seen in a change of clothes, like his bathing suit at the end of the film.
  • Even though film 3 is dismissed from canon, couple references from that film can be found, like Papa reading about the rats were put in jail (assuming to be Mr. Grasping and his colleagues) and a news paper clipping mentioned about "Mice Finds Treasure" (as Dr. Dithering were with Fievel, Tony, and Tiger in that search), which is hanging on Daily Nibbler's wall. Unfortunately, the names of the film 3's characters remained silent after dismissing them in obscurity.
  • One of the news paper clippings on Daily Nibbler's wall mentions the name "John Cheese", which can be seen as a pun for John Cleese, who voiced Cat R. Waul on Fievel Goes West
  • While the film itself is rated G, it received a TV-PG rating when it aired on the Freeform network, even though this isn't as intense as film 3.
  • For unknown reasons, this is the only An American Tail film that rarely airs on Universal Kids.


  • When Tanya wakes up saying "Oh, not again!" after Fievel's nightmare at the very beginning, the captions say "Oh, my God!".
  • When Haggis explains about the monster to Nellie, the character froze in one shot, but his voice can still be heard without his mouth moving.


The film has an audience score of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, though actually beating out The Treasure of Manhattan Island by 11%, and only behind Fievel Goes West's critic score by 6% (which has an audience score of 60%) . Among the fandom, the character of Nellie Brie is well-liked, but the film itself is regarded as mediocre. It is not nearly as divisive as The Treasure of Manhattan Island, perhaps because it makes no attempt to discredit or undermine Fievel Goes West, Tanya's role is not as pushed aside as last time (even though Nellie does appear mostly), and Tony is unpersuasive to other female mice (even without Bridget in the picture). It is sometimes criticized for its animation, as is the previous film. Astoundingly, Common Sense Media gave it rather positive reviews compared to the infamous predecessor, as the group describes it "A mystery with spunk, courage, and heart." since this movie encourages the children how to overcome their fears, despite the change in Fievel's characterization.

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