What can you say about a sequel that comes five years later and yet feels rushed?The original American Tail was a class act; this one, which transplants Fievel Mousekewitz to the old West, can't seem to get done fast enough. The images are thin, frantic, strained — in short, everything Don Bluth's original wasn't. (It plays like a direct-to-video sequel, though it was actually released in theaters.)
Still, there are elements to be thankful for. John Cleese is superb as the nefarious Cat R. Waul, who lures mice to his ranch and plans to turn them into mouseburgers. Amy Irving, who was the singing half of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, gets to do what Kathleen Turner did as Jessica's speaking half — she's Miss Kitty, a sultry cat of the world who leads the hapless Tiger (Dom DeLuise) by the nose.
And then there's the great James Stewart, in what turned out to be his big-screen swan song, as Fievel's hero, Wylie Burp. He probably did it for his great-grandchildren or something. Whatever. Because Stewart talks so slowly, the film has to calm down whenever he's on, and his measured, fumbling voice one last time is the best gift the movie has to offer.The songs this time (by James Horner and Will Jennings) are forgettable, not a 'Somewhere Out There' in the lot — 'The Girl I Left Behind,' 'Way Out West,' and 'Dreams to Dream.'