The fourth and (as of yet) final entry into the An American Tail series opens over the view of a rainy, gloomy day in old New York. We're shown a short montage of the streets and alleys, and finally the Mousekewitz house, the same exact house they lived in for The Treasure of Manhattan Island. The animation is the same too. We see Fievel laying in bed, apparently having a nightmare. He wakes up, and realizes Tanya isnt sleeping next to him. The curtain around the bed opens suddenly by itself, and Fievel crawls out of bed. Tip-toeing, he notices a large smoldering hole in the ground. He backs away. The ground begins to shake, and fire shoots out from the cracks as Fievel calls for his mother. And then, from out of the ground, a giant demonic winged cat rises up! It chases Fievel with a mousetrap at the end of its tongue (quite an imagination this kid's got), and corners him, just as the cat is about to chomp down on Fievel like he's a little mouseburger, he wakes up screaming. Tanya grumbles, being woken up, and Mama comes to hug and comfort Fievel. Apparently Fievel's dream was inspired by news stories about a monster terrorizing the city and eating mice.
Fievel falls asleep in his mothers arms, and in the morning they're suddenly woken up by an alarm clock, and Tanya shouting about being late for work. So, she's a career girl now? Very progressive for her time. Good thing those child labor laws haven't come into effect yet in the 1880's. She's working for The Daily Nibbler, a newspaper that has been fueling paranoia over the Night Monster across the city. Tanya turns the conversation to Nellie Brie, a famous reporter working for the newspaper who apparently regards the stories of the monster as balderdash and babble. That's when Mama forces Tanya to take Fievel to see Nellie, so she can get rid of Fievel's fears. Tanya hates the idea of taking Fievel to work with her, but, she reluctantly agrees. On the way there Tanya lectures Fievel about not making a fool of himself in front of Reed Daley, the main editor, who she seems to have a crush on, though she does a bad job trying to hide it. They pass through a gate built into an alley fence, and have to have their passports stamped by a police officer in order to go through. Apparently they've managed to make their mouse neighborhoods cat-proof this way. Funny how humans are so blind to all of this, isn't it? Anyway, the officer warns Tanya and Fievel to be back before dark, because if a dangerous, unknown animal on the loose. Another, odd-looking, bearded officer pulls a lever to open the gate.
The rest of the way is rather treacherous, with Fievel and Tanya having to dodge human feet. At the news agency, Fievel is almost run over by a cart until the odd-looking officer from before rides by on a roller skate and sweeps Fievel up, bringing him under a table where Tanya is. The officer takes off a hat and a fake beard, and apparently she's none other than Nellie Brie, who was attempting to unmask police corruption at the security gates by going undercover. Now where was she when we needed her in the last movie? Fievel and Tanya follow her back to the mouse news agency, which involves a roller coaster-like ride through a pipe. As soon as they get there, Nellie and Reed begin arguing over Reed's overly sensational headlines. They really lay the plot onto you in the beginning of this movie I've noticed. Their friendly argument is interrupted by Reed noticing Fievel doodling a picture, which as it turns out is a picture of Reed. "My ears aren't that big!" Reed says. "For an accurate interpretation he'd need a bigger piece of paper." the witty Nellie Brie muses. And just then, Tony Toponi arrives on the job. Apparently Tony is a lowly paper boy, but he came because he wanted to tell Reed about the latest Night Monster attack in Chinatown, so that maybe he'd be promoted to a reporter. Reed tells Nellie to go get him that story, much to her annoyance. And to further annoy her, he appoints Fievel as her assistant, who's job now is to draw up the artist interpretations of the Night Monster. My my, is The Daily Nibbler an equal opportunity employer or what? How old is their meteorologist, five?
Tony leads Fievel and Nellie over to Chinatown, and along the way they meet up with Tiger, who apparently has been employed to be Tony's transportation and to carry newspapers, receiving ten percent of his pay ("would have been 50 percent, but after expenses and all..."). See what I mean, they'll hire anyone, even a cat. They explain to Nellie that Tiger is their friend, though she still wasn't remotely startled by Tiger's sudden appearance. After hearing about the 'deal' Tiger's getting for his job she tells Tony that he'll "go far in this business." They part ways because Tony still has his job to do, and Fievel and Nellie take an inner-city train the rest of the way. On the way, Fievel tells her about how scared the Night Monster stories have been making him, that he can't even sleep at night. He concludes that he's nothing but a big baby and Nellie couldn't possibly understand because she's fearless. Nellie begs to differ, telling him that "Only fools are fearless." She also tells him that once you get the facts about something, it's not so scary anymore. Then she sings "Get The Facts" to Fievel to elaborate her point. Not a bad little song either, in fact I personally rather like it. The music for this movie is an improvement over the third movie.
Fievel and Nellie finally make it to the crime scene in Chinatown, and are allowed into the building by police after Nellie shows them her press pass. They come to a room with a large hole in the middle of it. A Chinese woman and her family confront Nellie, asking her to help get her husband back, who'd been taken away by the monster the night before as they were having dinner, having risen up through the floor below them. This story does nothing to ease Fievel's fears. Nellie states that she's only a reporter, but she'll see what she can do. After they leave, they pass by a pink miniature poodle who is telling the fortunes of the mice gathered around her. These fortunes are based on rather obvious observations about the mice but they nonetheless fall for it. When Nellie comes to the front of the crowd, she asks the poodle what she is, and she replies that she is Madame Mousey (pronounced 'Moo-say'). Nellie corrects her, saying she didn't ask what her name is, but what her species is. Fievel says he thinks she looks like a rat, which makes Mousey go berserk, and she picks Fievel up and shakes him until he calls her a dog.
When Nellie asks Mousey to explain herself, Mousey says that she's a fortune teller and a mind reader. Nellie, of course, is skeptical. Suddenly Mousey erupts into a seizure-like psychic fit, and announces she feels a great fear among the croud, over something mysterious and supernatural. Someone in the crowd brings up the Night Monster, and Mousey proclaims that she has been sent to save them from this monster, by selling them a special herb to place on their doorsteps at night. Nellie scoffs, takes Fievel and leaves. Next we're shown a montage of what takes place over the next few days, with Nellie and Fievel interviewing more attack victims, police patrolling the streets at night, and Madame Mousey selling more of her herbs. The next scene takes place in front of town hall, with an Honest John-like mouse giving a speech before the ground around him erupts in flames. Yasha's baby carriage gets pushed down a long flight of stairs and Fievel manages to grab her out of it, before the Night Monster comes up out of the ground and destroys it! Oh but guess what, that's all just a dream. Fievel wakes up with his face in his soup, sitting at the table. Mama comes to wipe his face clean, and smacks Papa on the back of the head for almost letting Fievel drown in his soup bowl. Papa defends himself saying he figured Fievel might just "eat a little, sleep a little". "Drown a little," Mama interjects. Fun to see their chemistry together, it's all too rare in the series. Fievel laments that hanging out with Nellie is doing nothing but make him more scared, and he comes down hard on himself, calling himself a coward before running out the door.
Next Fievel and Nellie are shown investigating a store that had been destroyed by the monster. Nellie remarks that she knows the owner. This is getting quite personal for her. Luckily they find the owner, a blatantly Scottish mouse in a kilt named Mr. Haggis, beneath the rubble. Mr. Haggis tells how he fought the monster off when it came out of the ground "like Nessie herself" by pouring hot butter into its hole in the ground. The monster seems to only be attacking racial and ethnic stereotypes, luckily for Fievel. Just keep not acting like a Russian Jew and you'll be fine kid. They investigate the area further, and find something the monster left behind. A hairball. Could it be that the monster is a cat?
The scene transitions to the following night. Madame Mousey is counting up her money greedily. After she finishes, she jumps into a sewer. Soon we see her walk into a wide open area, where a gang of cats are hanging out. Could this possibly be what remains of Warren's Mott Street Mauler gang? That's my theory. They were the ones who were so moronic Warren told them to stay behind when his gang went to chase Fievel to the pier. As it turns out, the missing mice are being held captive in wooden crates. The cats complain about their defeat at the hands of Mr. Haggis. One cat is small and angry a lot, apparently his name is Twitch, another is basically a cat version of Jerry Lewis ("Oi with the HURTING and the PAIN!"), and the third one is the stereotypical big dumb one, who sounds a little like Sylvester Stalone. The cats argue with Mousey, bringing up the fact that they found out the other stray dogs kicked her out of their gang. But Mousey reminds them that the Night Monster was all her idea, and begins to sing her villain song, "Creature de la Nuit". Not too bad of a song, probably the weakest in the movie but better than any of the songs from the third movie except for "Anywhere in Your Dreams". And Twitch gets all of his limbs dislocated during the song. I mean wow. Ouch. As a villain I'd say she's better than the villains of the third movie but nowhere near as good as Warren or Cat R. Waul really.
In the next scene, Tony Toponi is irritably trying to sell newspapers. Apparently he is losing his patience, and his sales pitch shows it, as he goes in a flat, monotone voice, "Paper, get your paper here, whoop-dee-do, paper here...". He even loses a customer by being sarcastic. When they pass by he yells "Fine! So stay ignorant!" When Tiger asks him why he sounds so cranky, he admits he's jealous of Tanya and Fievel getting the good jobs and he wants a chance to be a reporter. Just then, Madame Mousey calls out to Tony and Tiger. They follow her, and when she introduces herself as a dog, Tiger becomes scared. There's no way they didn't take his fear of dogs from Fievel Goes West here. But again this movie is even worse than the last one when it comes to referencing previous movies, this movie pretty much has nothing to do with any of the others except that the Mousekewitz family is living in the same house as they were in the third one. Anyway Tiger says he thought Madame Mousey was just a rat with big hair. Big mistake. Mousey climbs on top of him and tugs hard on his moustache angrily while yelling she's not a rat, until Tiger agrees with her. She tells Tony to pass a hot tip along to Nellie Brie, handing him a folded piece of paper. Later when he does, it turns out to be a map showing where the monster is. Reed makes Nellie and Fievel go check out the rumor, much to Nellie's irritation. The spot on the map turns out to be an old abandoned house. When Fievel and Nellie get there all is quiet. Until, the ground begins to rumble. Fievel exclaims that he hopes he's having another nightmare, and Nellie replies that if he is now would be a good time to wake up. The ground begins to bulge and a ring of fire appears, before a mechanical spinning device with a flashing cat's face on it bursts through the ground. Nellie is dumbfounded at first and frozen, but soon both Fievel and Nellie run for dear life.
Just as the robotic monster seems to have Fievel and Nellie cornered, a chandelier from above falls from the ceiling and crushes the device, causing it to fall underground. Apparently Tony Toponi had followed them, and somehow was able to cut the chandelier down, which was hanging by a solid steel chain, just in time to crush the monster right before it attacked Nellie and Fievel...however that works. Nellie again tells Tony he's going to go far in the newspaper business, after secretly following them despite being told not to. Nellie decides to go underground after the monster, to Fievel and Tony's shock. They discover that there is a sewer line directly beneath the house, and Nellie discovers a fake ruby; another clue. Nellie deduces that the ruby either came from a human costume, or, from a dog's collar. So, that night she takes Tony, Fievel and Tiger into Central Park, to ask the stray dogs there what they might know. Tiger faints after hearing the word "dog", predictably. Soon they are confronted by a large wolf-like hound named Lone Woof, someone Nellie's met before. Nellie asks him if the fake jewel seems familiar, and he sniffs it. However, Lone Woof decides that he has no interest in the Night Monster or in the problems of mice, and he turns to leave. Nellie runs after him, and decides to change his mind with a little song. Oh don't moan yet, it's not such a bad song. She begins singing "Who Will?". What makes this song interesting is that later Fievel joins in for a verse, and then...Tony Toponi sings a verse. You read right. Tony...singing. It's actually quite funny hearing him sing. Lone Woof just appears to be annoyed by the entire display, and they keep singing long after it becomes obvious he's ignoring them. Nellie's ability to carry a tune while running is quite impressive. At the end of the song, Fievel, Nellie, Tony, and Tiger all agree to stick together and be friends no matter what. Aww.
In the end all they get out of Lone Woof is "look for a sign from above". Yeah, like that's helpful. Well Fievel actually figures it out before everyone else, when he spots a sign posted on a tree above them, a missing dog poster, with a very familiar face on it. Next we see the news room abuzz about this new lead on the case, and everyone is searching through the old news files for clues about the past of one Madame Mousey. Tanya discovers a news article about the former occupants of the abandoned house Fievel and Nellie were tricked into going into, and find out who the former owner of Madame Mousey was. Tanya swoons and falls backwards after Reed says "Nice work, sweetheart." Tony then reveals that it was Madame Mousey who gave him the tip off to check out the old house. Reed tells Fievel that he can stay as the artist for The Daily Nibbler, and when Nellie asks if she can stay, Reed says he'll decide that after he reads her next article. Fievel asks Nellie with concern why Reed is always so mean to her. She replies that it only seems like he's being mean, he's actually crazy about her and it upsets him terribly. Fievel doesn't get it at all. Eh, he'll understand someday.
Meanwhile in the sewers, Madame Mousey and her three main cats return, badly injured, and pushing their robotic monster along. Twitch says he's had it with Mousey's plans and threatens to kick her out of the cat gang. But, Mousey reasons with them, and announces she has another plan. Later at the news agency, they finish putting together an evening edition of the paper. Tanya flirts more with Reed Daley, offering to stay after hours for as long as he needs her, but Reed is oblivious to what she means by that. Nellie offers to walk Fievel home, but he declines with a sigh, feeling down on himself again. Nellie assures Fievel that it's okay to be afraid, because that is what prevents people from doing foolish things. Like letting a kid walk home alone at night while mice are being kidnapped all over the city you mean?
When Fievel walks back home, he finds that the neighborhood is on fire, and mice are being attacked by the Night Monster once again! Fearing for his family, he runs home, only to find a giant hole in his living room. That's right...they've been taken. Fievel then sees the shadow of something that looks like a monster, and begins running for dear life, until he's cornered. But, turns out it's Tiger, almost about to die of a heart attack from chasing Fievel. Geez Tiger needs to get in shape. Broccolli really isn't the sort of food cats are supposed to eat you know. Tony catches up with them too. Fievel tells Tiger that he needs to go to Central Park and ask the dogs for help again. It takes a lot of convincing, but Fievel convinces him that the lives of his parents depend on it. Tiger agrees to go, but his heart isn't in it.
Meanwhile Fievel and Tony find Mousey's wagon where she kept all her money and fortune-telling supplies. They discover the secret passage into the sewers there, and follow it. In Central Park, Tiger tries his luck talking to the dogs, but they accuse him of being a mouse-eater while simultaniously saying they have no interest in the affairs of mice when he pleads for them to help the mice. But when he mentions Madame Mousey, he grabs their attention. As this is going on, Fievel and Tony make their way through the sewers.They discover the hideout, and find the crate that Fievel's parents are in. Papa talks back to the cats, calling them cowards, and hoping he gives them indigestion when he is eaten. Tony wants to run in and rescue everyone but Fievel stops him. Fievel explains to him that doing things that are dangerous doesn't always mean you're brave, sometimes it only means you're dumb. He should have learned that from the time he went up on the deck of a ship to see the fish, don't you think? Fievel decides to go find Nellie, and makes Tony begrudgingly promise not to do anything until he gets back.
Fievel eventually finds a hole in the roof of the sewers leading up to the news agency. Reed, Tanya and Nellie are being confronted by Madame Mousey and her thugs. Fievel walks in, and sees the mechanical monster. He shuts his eyes, remembering what Nellie said to him about getting the facts to make things less scary, and he finally pushes his fears aside, seeing it for what it truly was, a machine. Reed Daley threatens to expose Mousey in The Daily Nibbler, but Mousey proclaims that she is going to trash their offices and prevent the newspaper from ever coming out again, as well as making the three of them the latest victims of the Night Monster. But, Fievel with his newfound courage takes an electrical wire, shoving it into the machine as Mousey has her paw on it and electrocuting her.
The evil look on Fievel's face is priceless. The cats then run after Fievel, chasing him around the room. Fievel manages to evade all three cats and injure them, as the others just...stand there. After Fievel's through with them they all four reunite. The cats get up however, and climb into the machine, getting it moving. The machine chases Fievel with a buzzsaw, and when Fievel climbs up a wooden post the machine cuts it, sending the ceiling caving in on Fievel. The machine turns and begins going after the other mice. Reed tries to protect the printing press, rather foolishly, and Nellie pounces on him to get him away from the buzzsaw at the last second. Meanwhile...
Good God, Fievel's dead!! So that's why this was the last movie!! Nah I'm just playing with you, he's unconscious. Tanya helps wake him up and pick him out of the rubble. He wakes up quick when the buzzsaw comes after them. Fievel and Tanya find Nellie and Reed, and together they decide to run upstairs to the human newspaper office.
Back in the sewers, Tony begins to worry about Fievel, and the cats begin to get hungry. They decide to snack on a few of the mice. When Tony sees this he knows he has to do something, so he turns a valve on one of the pipes. Water begins to flood the sewer as the cats are about to eat Fievel's parents. They drop their catch as the water floods. The mice unlock their crates and swim out on top of them as they float.
And back at the surface, the cats seem to have followed Fievel and the others to the human offices, because at that moment Fievel is being chased by a buzzsaw. Fievel and Tanya lure them into a room while Reed and Nellie fire a pipe capsule at the machine, which explodes. Two of the cats are knocked out, but Twitch managed to escape unharmed, and goes after Nellie and Reed. Reed stabs Twitch with a pen and gets swatted across the room for his trouble, knocked unconscious. He pins Nellie by her dress, but Fievel sneaks up behind and bites Twitch's tail. He then taunts Twitch, shaking his butt at him. Twitch chases Fievel into the next room, where Fievel throws a box of letters for the printing press on him. Fievel runs, and Twitch chases him into another room, only to have Fievel slam the door on his arm. Yep, Fievel's in Tom and Jerry mode. Twitch chases Fievel onto the actual printing press, and Fievel unknowingly jumps onto the lever which starts the press. Twitch is then pulled into the press and gets smushed through all the turning gears, and ends up tied into a stack of newspapers.
Do not. Piss off. Fievel.
When Fievel gets back to the others, the two other cats wake up. Before they can charge however, the dogs finally arrive. The two cats run out the door, only to be chased away by more dogs. Fievel wonders what the dogs did with Tiger, just before Tiger walks in with Tony and Fievel's parents, poking Madame Mousey with a stick and forcing her into the room. Once she sees the other dogs in the room she begins to whimper and cower. Just then Reed came to, after being knocked out by Twitch earlier. Funny how pretty much everyone in the fight except Nellie and Tanya got knocked out at one time or another. Tanya rushes to Reed's side, telling him how worried she was, but he immediately turns to Nellie and expresses how happy he was to see that she was alright. He then confesses that he's crazy about her. Nellie returns the feelings, saying "You do know we're going to be miserable together." Reed smiles. "I'm counting on it."
Poor Tanya. Seeing Reed and Nellie get together breaks her heart. She faints soon afterwards. So...that means Nellie is the only one who didn't go unconscious at some point during this whole fiasco. The next scene shows the Mousekewitz family at the beach enjoying some relaxation. Tony and Tiger are there too. Tanya however is moping, saying that life has absolutely no meaning anymore and starting to sound a whole lot like Lidia Deetz from Beetlejuice. She's become a goth. Mama dismisses her dark conclusions on life with a shrug. As they discuss the aftermath of the events, Tony says that he heard from Nellie that Mousey was going to pay big for what she'd done. The punishment? We next see a woman on the boardwalk above them, and Mousey is at the end of her leash. Yes, she'd been returned to her owner. And I swear her owner looks like the same lady who owns Cat R. Waul. Coincidence? I think not! She has to endure her owner's snuggles and being tugged along by her neck on a leash for the rest of her life. Pure torment.
Mama remarks that maybe now Fievel can finally get some sleep. We then see Fievel laying on his back on the beach towel, already sleeping. The last line in the film is Mama saying "Sweet dreams Fievel. Sweet dreams." So ends the final installment in the An American Tail series. And, since their house was destroyed by the Night Monster, we can assume that they move into that box house where we see them living in Fievel Goes West. That does take place after this movie, after all. In closing, I would say that while this movie really stands on its own and doesn't allude to previous movies or anything, it's a nice film, nothing too bad about it. Bridget's not there, that's the only real thing missing. It probably could have been better, for instance they seemed to have dropped the historical theme for the most part in favor of a plot that comes off as somewhat Scooby Doo-esque, but as a direct to video sequel it's not half bad.
Sweet dreams, Fievel. Sweet dreams...
Release Date: December 9, 1999 (Germany) July 25, 2000 (USA)
Directed and Produced by: Larry Latham
Animated by: Universal Animation Studios