An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is an animated film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, presented by Universal Pictures. It is the sequel to 1986's An American Tail. Don Bluth, the original film's director, had no involvement with this sequel. Instead, it was directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells. Wells went on to do We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Balto, and The Time Machine, while Phil went on to co-direct We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and direct his own independent features.
The film follows the story of a family of Jewish-Russian mice who emigrate to the Wild West. In the film, Fievel Mousekewitz is separated from his family as the train approaches the American Old West; the film chronicles Fievel and Sheriff Wylie Burp (played by James Stewart in his final film) teaching Tiger how to act like a dog. It is the second film in the American Tail series, but the fourth installment chronologically.
It is the sole theatrical sequel to An American Tail, and was followed at the end of the 1990s by another two direct-to-video sequels, both of which took place chronologically before this film. A continuation of this installment, Fievel's American Tails, aired on the CBS Television Network in 1992.
Fievel spends his days dreaming about the wild west dog-sheriff Wylie Burp, while his sister Tanya, dreams of becoming a singer. Meanwhile, Tiger's girlfriend, Miss Kitty leaves him to find a new life out West, remarking that perhaps she's looking for "a cat that's more like a dog."
Tired of chasing, Cat R. Waul devises a plan to deliver the mice into his clutches. Using a mouse-cowpoke marionette, he entices the neighborhood mice, including the Mousekewitzs into moving yet again to a better life out west ("Way Out West"). Tiger chases the train, trying to catch up with his friends, but is thrown off course by a pack of angry dogs.
While on the west-bound train, Fievel wanders into the livestock car, where he overhears the cats revealing their plot to turn them into "mouse burgers." After being discovered, Fievel is thrown from the train by Cat R. Waul's hench-spider, T.R. Chula, landing the mouse in the middle of the desert. The Mousekewitzes are heartbroken once again over the loss of Fievel and arrive at Green River with heavy hearts.
Upon arrival at Green River, Chula blocks up the water tower, drying up the river. Cat R. Waul approaches the mice and proposes to build a new saloon together, although intending to trick the mice into doing the bulk of the work and then eat them afterwards.
Meanwhile, Fievel is wandering aimlessly through the desert, as is Tiger, who has found his way out west as well. Tiger is captured by mouse Indians and hailed as a god. Fievel is picked up by a hawk and dropped over the mouse Indian village and reunited with Tiger. Tiger chooses to stay in while Fievel catches a passing tumbleweed, which takes him to Green River. As soon as Fievel makes his arrival he quickly reunites with his family. He then tries to expose Cat R. Waul's true intentions. However, no one will believe him.
Meanwhile, as Cat R Waul searches for entertainment for the saloon, he happens to hear Tanya, Fievel's older sister, singing while working and is enchanted by her sweet voice ("Dreams to Dream").
He sends Tanya to Miss Kitty, who's now a saloon-girl cat, and she reveals that she didn't come out west by her own will, but at the request of Cat R. Waul. Cat R Waul tells Miss Kitty to put Tanya on stage. With a little encouragement from Miss Kitty, Tanya pulls off a great performance for the cats. ("The Girl You Left Behind").
Fievel is briefly taken prisoner by the cats and almost eaten a few times, but escapes. While walking out of town, Fievel stops to talk with an old hound sleeping outside the jail, discovering that the saturnine dog is in fact the legendary Wylie Burp. Fievel convinces Wiley to help the mices' plight and to train Tiger as a lawman and as a dog. Tiger is reluctant at first, but relents at the suggestion that a new persona might win back Miss Kitty. The trio: Wylie, Tiger, and Fievel go back to Green River to fight the cats, who had scheduled to kill the mice at sunset. a tortoise, a jackrabbit, a quail, a rattlesnake, an owl, a lizard, and a vulture see them.
At Green River, a giant mousetrap has been disguised as bleachers for a ceremony honoring the opening of Cat R. Waul's saloon. But before the trap can be tripped, the heroes foil the plot using their wits and their slingshots, and use a pitchfork and Chula's web as a lasso with him trapped on it to hurtle Cat R. Waul and his men out of town by having them all piled on part of the mousetrap which the heroes use as a catapult.
Enchanted by his new personality, Miss Kitty and Tiger become reunited. Tanya becomes a famous singer (although she also appears to be happy with the way she was before by the end) and the water tower flows with water again, making Green River bloom with flowers. Fievel finds Wylie Burp away from the party who hands Fievel his sheriff badge. Fievel is unsure about taking it, since he feels he is not a traditional hero, but Wylie reminds him that, if it weren't for Fievel, he'd still be a washed up dog. He realizes his journey is still not over, and that "if you ride out, head-on and steady, I think you'll find you're the hero you've been looking for".
Owing to creative differences, Don Bluth parted ways with Steven Spielberg, with whom he had directed the original American Tail, as well as the first of 13 Land Before Time films. With no Bluth in sight for the sequel, Spielberg instead relied on Phil Nibbelink, a former Disney animator, and Simon Wells, the grandson of science-fiction author H.G. Wells, to direct the project.
In addition to a new voice actress, the character of Tanya was heavily redesigned as well. Tiger had minor changes, as does Yasha (the baby) and Fievel looks slightly older.
James Horner returned to write the score to the movie, reusing old themes and introducing new ones.
Commercially, West grossed less than its predecessor; it opened in fourth place with $3,435,625 despite being shown on nearly 1,700 theaters and eventually made just over $22 million domestically, and $40 million worldwide, for a total of $65,435,625.. By contrast, the original Tail made $47.4 million in the U.S. in 1986, a record at the time for non-Disney animated feature., and a further $36 million worldwide, for a total of $84 million.
In an all-too-brief shot during the Cat raid on the mice slums, Tony and Bridget are briefly seen careening into a sewer on a rollerskate with three children. This seems to suggest that Bridget and Tony had married by now and had had children. If so, it may be negated by the lack of any such children or the sequels after it. Fievel later served as the mascot for Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, appearing in its production logo. There is also a Fievel-themed playground at Universal Studios Florida, featuring a large water slide and many over-sized objects such as books, glasses, cowboy boots, and more. It is the only such playground at any of NBC Universal's theme parks.