An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster

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An American Tail:
The Mystery of the Night Monster
DVD cover
Directed by Larry Latham
Produced by Larry Latham
Screenplay by Len Uhley
Based on Characters
by David Kirschner
Music by Michael Tavera
Edited by Jay Bixson
Universal Family and Home Entertainment Production[1]
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Video
Release date
  • December 9, 1999 (1999-12-09) (Germany)
  • July 25, 2000 (2000-07-25) (USA)
Running time
78 minutes
Country United States
Language English

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 chapter of the An American Tail trilogy. 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.[2]


After the events of the third film (late 1880s), but before the second (1891), 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.




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".[3]


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