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An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island is the third installation in the American Tail series, after both An American Tail and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West and before An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster. It is a 1998 American direct-to-video animated film produced by Universal Cartoon Studios, animated in Japan by TMS Entertainment and released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. It is also the second of the three sequels of the series. The film first premiered in the United Kingdom near Thanksgiving 1998. The film was often advertised on related titled VHS in United States the same year, but the release for United States was consequently put in hiatus until earlier in the next century due to its difficulty.

Of note is that the film takes place in New York, which either retcons the events in which the Mousekewitz family leaves New York, or just means that it takes place before then. This is addressed directly near the beginning of the film, when Fievel says he had a dream where he moved west, as well as the mice singing about staying in Manhattan.

Plot

The story begins with some mice coming into New York on cab. The mice in New York are singing We Live In Manhattan while working, giving the audience a sense of the setting.

In the morning, Fievel Mousekewitz and Tanya Mousekewitz try to wake up Papa Mousekewitz. Papa has trouble getting up because he's getting old, and he grumpily snaps at Tanya making her upset, but they soon get along and Papa apologizes, thanks to Mama Mousekewitz. Papa is working with Tony in Cheese factory, owned by three wealthy and evil mice.

Tony takes Fievel into an abandoned subway to look around, and when Tiger accidentally activate one of the trains a secret chamber opens up and in it Fievel and Tony discover a map. Tony decides to take it to Dr. Dithering, a scientist in archaeology he used to work for. However this makes Tony late for work. When Tony arrives late at work, the three factory owners decide to punish him by not giving him his payment, but Papa convinces them not to fire Tony. After studying the map, Dr. Dithering decides to take Fievel, Tony and Tanya to underground to find what he believes will be a lost treasure. Dr. Dithering has an assistant name Scuttlebutt, who is in fact spying on professor for three factory owners. Also on the side of the villains is also Chief McBrusque, chief of New York's police department. McBrusque is getting bribed for keeping mice in factory silent.

The following morning at the factory, mice are striking, but they are stopped when McBrusque and his police officers beat up one small glasses-wearing mouse, who was the loudest. Papa is angry, but can't afford to have problems with the police.

Meanwhile in an underground tunnel, Fievel, Tiger, Dr. Dithering and others discover that under New York live Indian mice, remnants of the Lenape tribe. Fievel meets Cholena, the cute and sweet daughter of Indian chief.

Fievel tells her that they think Indians pose treasure, but she tells him that their only treasure is their land.

Cholena decides to go on surface, to see if the Europeans have changed their ways and will let the Lenape live in peace. Meanwhile, Scuttlebutt reports to evil factory owners about the Indian village. The owners decide to give a speech to their workers stating that the Lenape are a threat, and that causes mice to get in angry mob. They go to museum, and kidnaps Dr. Dithering, and bring him to Sweat shop, where factory owners and police prosecute him. Papa manage to escape from McBrusque and his men. McBrusque is prepared to kill Cholena, but is stopped by Fievel and Tony to save Cholena's life.

Meanwhile at the butcher shop, Dr. Dithering is put on trial for cooperating with Indians, and police are determined to kill him with meat grinder for crushing meat. Papa goes with Tiger, who rescues Dr. Dithering and fights off the police. Papa then explains the mice who actually are their enemy is the factory owners, not the Indians. The mob goes after the owners, but police block the exit.

The owners ordering McBrusque and his men to kill everybody in the Indian village, and steal their treasure. Fievel and the gang manage to get there before police, and to make a strategy. When police arrive, Indians and Fievel's gang fight them off for defense. All the policemen run away. The Indian chief tells Fievel that he and his friends have to destroy entrance into the village, from the surface, and gives them the exploding device called the gunpowder bomb.

Fievel, Tony and Tanya start to light the fuse, but they are ambushed by McBrusque and Scuttlebutt who grab Fievel and Tony. After Tanya helps Tony and Fievel to fight and overpower McBrusque and Scuttlebutt, Fievel manages to set of the bomb and to destroy the entrance from the surface. This floods the tunnel, together with McBrusque and Scuttlebutt as they fall into the chasm to their deaths. Tony and Tanya manage to reach higher ground, but Fievel is carried off by the current. When the water recedes, Tanya and Tony desperately search through the mud to find him, before giving up. But just then, Fievel breaks through the surface, and they all three share a muddy group hug, thankful that everyone survived.

On the surface, the mice have elected Papa as their first Worker union president. The cruel owners are complaining how there are many ways to skin the cat, but are interrupted by Tiger, who is now new Chief of New York police to keep everything peaceful.

Dr. Dithering gives Fievel a telescope, and Fievel sees that Cholena and her people are on surface, waving goodbye to him before disappearing into a secret entrance on a statue.

Characters
  • Fievel Mousekewitz: The main protagonist, a little mouse with hopes and dreams for the American life.
  • Tanya Mousekewitz: Fievel's older sister, but is once again younger and Mama and Papa often hold her against her wishes.
  • Papa Mousekewitz: Fievel's father. He was one of the Cheese factory workers until seeing Grasping's true color later in the film.
    • Mama Mousekewitz: Fievel's mother. This is Erica Yohn‘s final acting appearance before her retirement and later death on January 27, 2019.
    • Yasha Mousekewitz: Fievel and Tanya's baby sister.
  • Tiger: The orange cat who is friends with the Russian-Jewish mouse family. He became the Police Chief at the end, but is cut from The Mystery of the Night Monster for political reasons.
  • Tony Toponi: Fievel's 16-year-old Sicilian best friend who returns from the series' first film An American Tail. He goes along with Fievel throughout the film and often helps with Dr. Dithering.
  • Cholena: One of film's main protagonists and the Lenape princess. She is a parody of Pocahontas and her voice actress, Elaine Bilstad, was a Native American actress, which was her last role appearance before her death with a heart problem on January 29, 1999.
    • Chief Wulisso: The Lenape Chief and Cholena's father.
    • Tankho: Cholena's buxom Lenape handmaiden.
  • Dr. Dithering: The archaeologist who helped Fievel and his friends on their exploitation for the treasure.
  • Mr. Grasping: The film's main antagonist and the fearsome boss of the Cheese Factory. He enslaves everybody that works in the factory. He is one of the many villains in this film that is racist.
    • Mr. Toplofty: Grasping's wise colleague.
    • Mr. O'Bloat: Grasping's cowardice colleague.
  • Police Chief McBrusque: The film's secondary antagonist and the brutish Police Chief. He gets paid for beating out anyone who rebels against Grasping.
  • Scuttlebutt: Dithering's British assistant and traitor. The name "Scuttlebutt" is commonly used as a slang term for gossip and rumors.
Voice Cast
Soundtrack

The soundtrack was never released in any official format. Much of the background music is recycled from James Horner's scores for the first two An American Tail films, or are instrumentals of one of the three original songs from the film. Those songs are:

A version of Anywhere in your Dreams without any background noises or vocalizations was made available as a sing-along extra on the DVD. This was the first An American Tail film where the villain(s) was given a musical number.

Geography error
  • Tony Toponi mentioned that the Beach Pneumatic subway shut down 12 years earlier from the timeline this movie took place, which the subway closed in 1873. In An American Tail, the timeline at the beginning was December 1885 and assumed early 1886 after the Mousekewitz moved to United States as the Statue of Liberty was still under construction. The timeline at the end was middle of 1886 as the statue was completed, which means the subway's closure was 13 years after the timeline this movie took place (assuming in late Summer 1886).
  • The Statue of Liberty is seen to have its modern green patina in this film. However, this film is set in the 1880s like the first American Tail film, so the copper statue should still have its original brown color as seen in the first film when it was newly built. The statue didn't get its modern green color until the 1920s. This strangely carries on in the next film.
Reception

The film was poorly received by audiences and currently has a 29% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes. A common criticism of the film relates to its direct-to-video animation quality. The film has proven to be divisive within the fandom. Many fans appreciate that most of the voice cast from the first film returned and that it was closer in tone to the original, and some praise it for including more mature themes than many DTV films of the time. However, Fievel Goes West was the better-received film with most audiences, and this movie's attempt to retcon that film into a dream angered some fans. Also, some fans take issue with the changes made for the franchise’s original characters, deliberately ignoring the continuities from the past films. Some of the new characters, such as Cholena, were considered among the highlights of the film, and Elaine Bilstad was praised for her voice performance. The villains of the film received mixed reviews. They were considered racist and too mature for a kid's film, however, the voice actors were praised for their performances (most especially Tony Jay and Ron Perlman).

As far as sequels to Don Bluth films go, there are films with much worse reputations, such as The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. Even Common Sense Media received negative attention with the politically sensitive elements in the film. [1]

Trivia
  • This is the first and only movie that shows some mice as villains. The previous movies had depicted cats as the villains, and the main villain of the fourth film was a dog.
  • Scuttlebutt and Chief McBrusque are the only villains to be killed off from the franchise.
  • This film is thematically similar to Pocahontas. Both films involve a European developing a friendship with a Native American and attempting to prevent violence between the Natives and the Europeans.
  • This is the first and only film in the franchise Fievel has a love interest.
  • This is the first and only film Tony mentions his family and that he's from Sicily and speaking Italian.
  • The Treasure of Manhattan Island was banned from Freeform due to racial controversy and the politically sensitive elements, although the flim did air on Universal Kids, Cartoon Network, Starz Encore, Starz Kids and Family, and Toon Disney (now Disney XD)
  • None of the characters mention about the concept that happened during this movie in the finale, assuming due to the creators decided to depart the third film's concepts from the fourth movie to avoid further controversy within the franchise by giving the fourth movie much safer plotline.
    • However, there are possible references that can be found in the next movie.
  • The opening title of the movie is different at the beginning of the VHS and the DVD. At the beginning of the VHS, the opening title is An American Tail III: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, where on the DVD, the opening title is simply An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island.
  • The original trailer has details limited, which omits the politically sensitive elements, as well as mostly ignoring some of the original characters’ controversial changes. It only focused on Fievel’s relationship with Cholena and the bravery of the main protagonists. The trailer is only sourced on the Universal’s titled VHS tapes prior to the film’s release as in the digital stores, the preview only shows Tony taking Fievel and Tiger to the abandoned subway, completely ignoring everything else. Universal has since abandoned the original trailer years after the release.
    • Despite this, it can be found on video sharing websites, such as YouTube.
  • Notably possible censorship were made on the home media covers, to make it less offensive to the buyers. For instance, Cholena's fur is given a rather cream color to oppose the original reddish color which reflects the skin color of an actual Native American maiden. Every villain in this movie, along with Tankho and Dr. Dithering, are not shown on the cover. Chief Wulisso and some of the Lenape Mice appeared on the back of the VHS cover, but are dropped from the cover of the DVD releases.
Release dates
  • USA: Summer 1998 (video advertisement only)
  • UK: November 16, 1998
  • USA: February 15, 2000 (official)
  • Canada: February 15, 2000
  • Japan: February 4, 2001 (TV premiere)
  • Italy: April 6, 2001 (TV premiere)
  • Spain: January 2, 2003
  • Australia: February 9, 2003
  • Russia: April 3, 2003
  • France: June 19, 2003
  • Germany: November 4, 2003
  • Hungary: December 29, 2005 (TV premiere)
  • Japan: April 4, 2006
TV Airings

Toon Disney (2001-2005)

Cartoon Network (2002)

Starz Encore

Starz Kids and Family

Universal Kids (2017)

Streaming

Netflix (2017-2020)

iTunes/Apple TV

Amazon Prime

Political themes

The subplots in this film are subjects of racism, police corruption, and worker's rights. This even includes Native American stereotypes involving the Lenape mice, with their furs reflecting the skin color of actual Native Americans, which are deemed insensitive in today's society.[2][3] These concepts are mainly condemned from children's media today.

Gallery
External links
An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island
Characters Papa MousekewitzMama MousekewitzTanya MousekewitzFievel MousekewitzYasha MousekewitzTigerTony ToponiCholenaChief WulissoLenape MiceMr. ToploftyMr. GraspingMr. O'BloatChief McBrusqueScuttlebuttDr. Dithering
Locations New YorkLes Club Des Grands FromagesCheese Factory
Songs We Live in ManhattanAnywhere in Your DreamsFriends of the Working Mouse
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