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on February 23, 2011
How do you feel when you learn that one of your favorite films is to be released on DVD?

Of course, you feel very happy.

And what is your reaction when you finally got it? Well, there can be two:

1) This is great! A remastered version presented in widescreen! And all is just like I remember it, only better! And look at all those special features!

2) What... what is this?!

My reaction with An American Tail DVD was #2. Because what I got was a #2 job.

Here is a short and easy-to-follow guide for every studio out there, that is planning to release a movie on DVD:

1. Do not make unnecessary changes.
2. Do not make unnecessary edits.
3. Present it in widescreen if that was the original aspect ratio.

Do you think Universal followed those easy steps?

Well..... mostly, NO.

Here is an incomplete list of changes (without spoilers):

-New "humorous" sound effects were added to scenes where originally there weren't any. They're not funny.
-New voices were added to scenes without dialog (or any noise, for that matter).
-The alley mice's voices were re-dubbed. Why???
-The cover art was changes from a beautiful theatrical poster by Drew Struzan, only to be replaced with... something MUCH less appealing.

As I said, this small list of changes is incomplete. There is more.

It should be mentioned that, despite what you might think, the movie was originally animated in fullscreen (fullscreen back then was 4:3). So, the lack of widescreen in this DVD release is actually justified. Even though it is a bummer.

Speaking of special features, there is zero. Enjoy those non-existing extras!

An American Tail is a film that combines the talents of Steven Spielberg and Don Bluth. It was the first animated feature ever to out-compete Disney. It won several awards, including a Grammy for "best song". It was screened at the Jewish Film Festival in Atlanta in February 2011 to celebrate its 25 year anniversary. It was a film that grossed $84,000,000 worldwide (a record for animation at that time).

And THIS is how you treat such a film, Universal?! I cannot hear you, Universal!~!
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on January 20, 2004
Since I have already written a review back in spring of 2001 that touches on the brilliance of this animated treasure, this review will focus primarily on the newly released DVD of the film.

I for one, was certainly thrilled to learn that Universal was finally giving Fievel the coveted DVD treatment, and anticipated its release on the format each day since. Yes, features are scarce, and yes, the film is presented in full frame only, but the way I see it, having An American Tail on DVD at all is a milestone for me, since it is a title I have yearned for since the early days of the format. Do not get me wrong, I am a VERY strong supporter of original aspect ratio on home video, but An American Tail is not exactly a film that cries out for the anamorphic widescreen treatment. In this case, its omission does not really detract from the experience. But then again, maybe I am being slightly biased about this film, having seen it once as child, loved it, and becoming hooked on it ever since.

As far as the picture quality is concerned, aside from the image being full frame, I was actually rather impressed. I was not expecting the image to be quite so crisp and clear. There were a few more speckles of film dirt then I thought should have been there, but for a film nearing twenty years old, it was still a good deal better than I was expecting. Clarity was most definitely improved over the VHS versions, and colors were strong and nice-looking.

The sound is also pretty great. I listened to the DTS 5.1 soundtrack on my surround system, and it is, without a doubt, the best I have ever heard this film. However, those of you who have seen American Tail numerous times over (as I have) are bound to notice changes in some of the dialogue as compared to past video releases. In the opening titles, for example, as we approach the Mousekewitz home, laughter is now heard inside the humans' cottage where, on the VHS release, all that can be heard is James Horner's soundtrack. Also, new or never-before-heard lines of dialogue have been spliced into the film throughtout. The most noteable instances of this are during the scenes when Fievel is trapped in a birdcage crying, just before he meets Tiger. Also, when the cats are being anchored up onto the ship headed for Hong Kong, Warren T. now utters an additional line from offscreen, which I will leave you to discover. Anyone who has seen the film a good many times is bound to notice these changes.

While this altered/re-dubbed dialogue does not necessarily hurt the film, it is still fair to question why these changes were needed. Perhaps Universal felt the need to offer something new to DVD buyers who would be purchasing this film again? There is no sense in correcting something that was never broken to begin with. Be that as it may, the changes do not take away from one's enjoyment of the film, or certainly not mine, at least.

Bottom line, American Tail lovers who are not particularly picky about aspect ratio should find this DVD well worth acquiring. Like I said, I am big on widescreen myself, but in this case, found the movie too irresistable to turn down, especially at its low list price. Full frame and re-recorded dialogue aside, An American Tail is still the classic that it was nearly 20 years ago. So buy it before you are stuck trying to find an out-of-print copy "somwhere out there."
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on March 3, 2014
This is a great movie and it shines like never before on blu-ray. For the first time the film is presented in it's original 1:85:1 theatrical widescreen aspect ratio. The colors are bright and the picture quality is stunning and very clear. The picture quality is vastly improved over every other past release. There are a few flaws however that may not bother too many people. There is 99.9% no film grain but in a few scenes the picture looks like some of the characters have edge doubling. Almost as if they used a three strip technicolor master and miss-aligned the strips a tiny bit which caused a double effect or ghosting around the edges of some of the characters throughout the movie which however does not distract from the enjoyment of the film. This film definitely does not have the quality that Disney gives their re-mastered classics but all-in-all this is a great film and the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is superb. This is a great film recommended for children and adults of all ages. This is perfect family entertainment at it's best and for those who like classic and modern classic Don Bluth animation, this one film that is sure to please and a must-have for any blu-ray collection.
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on December 26, 2012
There isn't too much more to say, as other reviewers have it covered: no widescreen, frivolous edits and additions, and a general lack of respect for a milestone in American animation (beat back Disney at the box office). It's pretty clear that the suits at Universal are unconcerned with anything more than a quick, cheap buck or two at the expense of a fine animated feature and its fans. Hold out for a proper DVD treatment, and deluge Universal with demands that they do this up right!
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on December 3, 2003
For those who think An American Tail is just a kids movie, they are most definately wrong. I was proven wrong when we watched it in my Sophomore History class, and it caught my full attention in the first five minutes.
Don Bluth creates an animation masterpiece that rivals some of Disney's best films, and James Horner provides us with a heartwarming score.
The story revolves around little Fievel Mousekewitz, a Russian immigrant who comes to America near the turn of the century (1885). He gets sent overboard the steamboat during a storm, and he sets off alone in New York, determined to find the family he lost.
With unforgettable characters, catchy songs; including the award-winning 'Somewhere Out There', An American Tail will capture your mind and heart and will be enjoyed for years to come.
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Not too long after getting to America, Fievel is singing a duo with Henri the Frenchman... (cough) French-bird... called (drum roll!) "Never say never"! Hmmm. An American Tail came out in 1986, Justin Bieber released the song in 2010. Yep, I'd say he definitely got it from the movie, not the other way around! ;)

I watched Fievel goes west many times, but had never seen the 1st movie before today. As another reviewer mentioned, the plot lines are pretty much the same: both have the family traveling to a new place where everything will be better, both have a cat pretending to be a rat/mouse robbing the immigrants of their money, in one Fievel falls off a train bridge while in the other he falls off a train, both times he falls into a gutter, both times he ends up in a cat bar, both times he discovers the cat behind the mask and tries to warn his family, both times his sister never gives up on him (I will never say never!) while his parents seem to quite easily dismiss the idea of ever finding him again and seek to squish any idea of looking for him.

I actually still prefer Fievel goes west. If the plot lines are the same, then go for the one that is less scary. This one was frightening, black cats with dark teeth. As least in the second movie, you have more of Tiger for comic relief and the doom is more impending than crashing down on them over and over. Kinda scary for little kids. Recommend 8 and up for this one. Four and up for Fievel goes west.

The symbolism is rather interesting. The mice are Russian Jews. The Cossacks and their cats come and kill a bunch of them (Hitler and the Reich saw the Cossacks as Aryans, unlike the rest of Russia). So, the mice/jews flee the Aryan/anti-semites and head to America where there is supposedly no one who is a cat/anti-jew. Unfortunately, that is not so. And there are plenty of anti-semites as well as Jews who are wealthy Germans (interestingly enough) who use the low-down-mob for their own good.

And we all know that the producer Steven Spielberg is a Jew. His Grandpa, named Fievel oddly enough, came to the US from Russia. So, this kids movie suddenly becomes a very political thing.... Steven is essentially saying "my grandpap fled anti-semitism in Russia and I am telling you all it is here too!" Which is true, especially in recent years...

Isn't the meaning behind "innocent" kid movies fascinating?!

Almost as good as watching any 1950s movie, where the woman is stupidly conniving and the guy is always trying to put her in her place and the movie ends with him yelling at or beating her and her "seeing the light" and apologizing profusely for blocking his right of dominant manhood. Take that post-WWII women! The men are back from the war! Get out of your jobs and go back home and tend babies. Scat!
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on March 15, 2003
While in Acapulco, I went into a large U.S.-based store and found a wealth of favorite movies in Spanish at great prices. My husband first was introduced to this wonderful story as "Un Cuento Americano" (An American Tale - the pun doesn't work in Spanish) and it quickly became one of his favorites to watch and share with friends.
The translation is fantastic! As a sometime translator, I am very picky about how such work is done. Music and comedy are both notoriously difficult to translate well, but somehow these good folks accomplished the task with style, even finding substitute vocabuWary for a certain chaWacteWs speech impediment. Likewise, the singers and speakers for the Spanish version are well cast; so often the voices for dubbed versions lack the charm of the originals, but here they've done quite well. ¡Pruébala -- Te gustará a ti también!
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on April 21, 2005
From director Don Bluth (The Secret of NIMH) this beautiful animated film comes a "tail" like no other. This story is about a little mouse named Fievel taking a "once in a lifetime" journey to America from Russia to escape the cats. They think by going to America there are no cats and can have a better life for their families. Upon their travels poor little Fievel becomes seperated from his family while arriving in New York.

During his adventures he meets up with wonderful characters such as: Tiger (Dom DeLuise), Tony Toponi, Bridget, Honest John, Gussie Mausheimer (Madeline Kahn), Digit, Henri (Christopher Plummer) & more!

This film also had some wonderful feature and ground breaking award winning songs such as:

There Are No Cats in America
Never Say Never
Somewhere Out There
Somewhere Out There - James Ingram & Linda Ronstadt
Duo

Before Disney's beautiful Pixar films came to the big screen, there was the breathtakingly beautiful and realistic animation by Don Bluth and Steven Spielberg productions. It may be a little out dated for most, but it's truly a classic animated film with wonderful song's & colorful characters told in an original story.

The DVD: Is very sweet as well it has sing-a-long song's, cute triva games for the kids, and more!
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on December 21, 2014
What a great movie! I remember this one well from when I was a kid, and my 3 year old loved it just as much. It's cool to look back and watch a true animated movie - as in, someone painstakingly drew each frame by hand. It gives the movie and old-time feel that is a nice change from the loud/bright/crazy computer animated films our kids are used to these days.

One key recommendation - paying the extra buck for HD is not worth it... they obviously didn't have HD in the 1980's.. save your dollar:)
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on June 5, 2016
Many of these "older movies" are a bit more forthright with their storytelling and I respect that. It is a nice change and feel it's good for my kids because I remember it fondly, regardless of the specifics but many deserve a pre watch depending on how sensitive your little beans can be.
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