BluRay/DVD Reviews

AN AMERICAN TALE: THE TREASURE OF MANHATTAN ISLAND

By • Jan 20th, 2004 •

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1999 Universal Studios

An American Tail, The Treasure of Manhattan Island is of course, a sequel to David Kirschner’s enormously popular An American Tale, an animated feature about the Mousekewitz family, Russian mice who become part of New York’s late 19th century melting pot. This pleasing direct-to-video sequel is constructed like a Broadway play. There are musical numbers, ensemble pieces, solos that explain the plot and setting. Kids will identify with, and certainly get a kick out of, the way these 19th century characters have a tendency to come out with modern millennium era slang and lingo.

The plot concerns Fievel, the child-mouse hero of other American Tale cartoons, who pokes around a setting new and novel to him – a subway station under construction. Underneath the subway, Fievel finds a treasure map. Along with his pal, his sister, Tanya, Professor Scuttlebutt (a learned mouse voiced by John Kassir) and Tiger, a tag- along cat (voiced amusingly by Dom Deluise), Fievel follows the map. It leads them to secret caverns far below Manhattan, and a friendly mouse-Indian tribe. (Shades of Universal’s 50’s B horror opus The Mole People?)

One of the fun parts of this American Tale is that the cartoon, clearly aimed at kids, emphasizes its period New York setting with historic elements of the times. In the beginning of the film, the under-age Fievel toils in a sweatshop with his ailing father. There are corrupt policemen on the robber baron’s secret payroll, labor riots, and the general ethnic melting pot that made Lower New York famous and diverse. New York City has a fascinating history, and this cartoon doesn’t let you forget it!

The funniest turn is when Fievel and his tribe encounter an Indian tribe living deep beneath Manhattan. The Indian Chief enjoys Fievel’s peace offering of his mother’s Matzo Ball (?) Soup!

“We have heard legend of this Matzo Ball soup,” the Spooky Chief says, “…strong medicine!” That’s some of the dialog that graces this enjoyable little cartoon.


Credits:
Directed and Produced by Larry Latham
Screenplay by Len Uhley

Voices:
Thomas Dekker,
Dom Deluise,
Pat Musick,
Nehemiah Persoff,
David Carradine

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