Whoopee-ti-yi-yo, git along, little nudnicks, it's time to go West and seek the American dream. That's the theme of Steven Spielberg's ebullient sequel to his 1986 box office bonanza, An American Tail.
In this version, the Mousekewitz family, that rococo clan of rodents that American viewers came to love when it first emigrated from Russia, has learned the harsh lesson that the streets of fin de siècle New York City are not "paved with cheese." And so, inspired by young Fievel's dream of becoming a sheriff like his hero, Wylie Burp (not to mention free train tickets dispensed by the nefarious Cat R. Waul), the Mousekewitzes pack their bags and head for the distant, sun-drenched hills.
Naturally, more perils abound at journey's end, along with rowdy laughs and a freshet of new songs (best number: Fievel's sister Tanya knocks 'em dead in a bucket-o'-blood saloon with a rousing rendition of "The Girl I Left Behind"). Voices from the original (young Phillip Glasser as Fievel and Dom DeLuise as his pal Tiger) mingle marvelously with those of Amy Irving as the seductive Miss Kitty, John Cleese as the shabby gentleman tabby Waul and the venerable Jimmy Stewart, now 83, who brings his patented hiccuping drawl to Wylie Burp. Prudent moms and dads will make sure their holiday plans include Tail as well as Beauty and the Beast, or they'll never hear the end of it this season. (G)