An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster
|An American Tail:|
The Mystery of the Night Monster
|Directed by||Larry Latham|
|Produced by||Larry Latham|
|Screenplay by||Len Uhley|
by David Kirschner
|Music by||Michael Tavera|
(archive music from An American Tail and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West)
|Edited by||Jay Bixson|
|Distributed by||Universal Studios Home Video|
An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster (also known as An American Tail IV: The Mystery of the Night Monster) is a 1999 American animated film directed and produced by Larry Latham. It is the second direct-to-video follow-up to An American Tail. It is also the fourth and final film of the An American Tail series. Thomas Dekker stars as the young Fievel Mousekewitz in a story set before the events of the second film and after third film. Universal released it on July 25, 2000 in the US. Due to concept issues including the thematic material involving the third installment, stricter concept changes were made, such as violent sequences are toned down and the characters from that installment are replaced with more less-diverse ones. Major changes were made for some of the original characters in this movie as well, such as Tanya's role is expanded and Tony's romantic concept is completely removed, which the concept for Tony in the third installment was viewed as a betrayal example of the character due to his pairing with Bridget in the original film.
After the events of the third film (1885-1910), but before the second (1890-1900), in the year 1910 or 1915, Fievel, his friend Tony, and his sister Tanya all get jobs at the local newspaper, where the audience is introduced to Nellie, who wants to be an important reporter, but only gets small assignments, as if she were a secretary to Reed, the newspaper's editor. Throughout the film, Tanya tries to win Reed's heart, while Tony tries to get noticed by Reed and promoted to a reporter. As 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 on mice who disappear overnight into holes that open up on their floor all over New York City. Reed makes up a, as Nellie calls it, "so-called monster" that lives under Manhattan and takes mice away during the night to add more excitement to the otherwise unimportant story, intending to sell more papers. The night monster creates fears among 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 (a fiery demonic cat with a mouse trap on its tongue). When, through Tanya, he is assigned the job of following Nellie and drawing up interperatations 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 known as the infamous Outlaw Cats hiding in the sewers. 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 mechanic device with ghastly flashing pictures and a circular 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, leaving Tanya intensely disheartened. 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. Abernathy. Mama 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 with Yasha his sister already asleep on the beach towel, to which Papa smiles and says, "You were saying?" The Mousekewitz family, including Tony and Tiger, share a group hug as Mama says, "Sweet dreams, my little Fievel. Sweet dreams.", ending the film, and the series.
- Thomas Dekker as Fievel Mousekewitz
- Dom DeLuise as Tiger
- Susan Boyd as Nellie Brie, a caricature of Nellie Bly
- Pat Musick as Tony Toponi/Mrs. Abernathy
- Candi Milo as Madame Mousey
- Robert Hays as Reed Daley
- Lacey Chabert as Tanya Mousekewitz
- Nehemiah Persoff as Papa Mousekewitz
- Jane Singer as Mama Mousekewitz
- John Mariano as Twitch
- Jeff Bennett as Slug/The Great Dane
- Joe Lala as Bootlick
- Sherman Howard as Haggis
- John Garry as Lone Woof
- "Get the Facts", Performed by Susan Boyd and Thomas Dekker
- "Creature de la Nuit", Performed by Candi Milo, Joe Lala and Jeff Bennett
- "Who Will", Performed by Susan Boyd, Thomas Dekker, Pat Musick and Dom DeLuise
Universal Studios released this fourth installment on VHS in July 25, 2000. Then, it was released on DVD in 2004, with a sing-along version of "Who Will" as a bonus feature. It was combined with three other films on June 13, 2017.
David Parkinson of Radio Times rated it 2/5 stars and criticized the film's use of what he called "flagrant racial stereotypes". Parkinson concluded, "But, apart from a couple of imaginatively eerie dream sequences, there's little here to hold the attention of even the least discriminating youngster", despite having majority racial concept in the third installment. Michael Scheinfeld of Common Sense Media, gave it positive reviews compared to the previous installment, describing it as "A mystery with spunk, courage, and heart." since this movie encourages the children how to overcome their fears. Felix Vasquez Jr. called it "A nice diversion and mediocre finale to the animated series."
- "An American Tail The Mystery of the Night Monster (1999)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
- Nichols, Peter M. (2000-07-28). "HOME VIDEO; It's a Sequel? O.K., I'll Take It". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
- "Original trailer with kid-friendly changes", iTunes
- "An American Tail: 4 Movie Complete Collection". Amazon. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- Parkinson, David. "An American Tail: the Mystery of the Night Monster". Radio Times. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
- Michael Scheinfeld (2017-10-01). "An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster". Common Sense Media.