Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A Rainy Day Tale

Today was my early work day. It looked like it may have rained last night, but by the time I headed to work, it was merely humid, gloomy, and chillier than yesterday. The weather (and us being between holidays) must have kept our customers at bay. We were off and on steady for most of the night, and never more than mildly busy. Good thing, too. They were replacing our old candy and magazine shelves in the front register with newer ones, and it was a bit of a pain. They had to clean up the dust and dirt and spilled berries under them before replacing them with the new ones, and they kept getting in everyone's way. By the 4 PM rush hour, things were picking up a little. The college boy who was my relief was late; a manager was nice enough to come in for me.

Though it looked like it had rained earlier, it wasn't raining when I got home. There were very dark clouds on the horizon, though. I'm glad I got home when I did. It started raining hard about an hour or so later, and has been raining on and off for the rest of the night.

After spending an hour doing work online, I hit the kitchen to make Apple-Cinnamon Muffins for work this week and have leftovers for dinner. I watched the first An American Tail while baking. Fivel Mouskawitz and his family flee Russia in the late 1900's for the golden (or cheese-covered) opportunities of America, a place where there are supposedly no cats to torment them. Fivel becomes separated from his family while on the boat. He spends the rest of the movie searching for them through the dirty streets of New York. On the way, he's thrown into a sweatshop, makes friends with a street urchin, an Irish lass, and a cat who doesn't eat meat, and helps the other mice in New York come up with a way to drive the cats out for good.

This always was an incredibly depressing movie, especially for something intended for kids. I didn't know what to make of it as a child. The animation is as gorgeous as Don Bluth's previous film The Secret of Nimh...but some of the rotoscoping, especially on the "secret weapon" in the finale, crosses over into nightmare territory. There's so many characters that you don't really get to know any of them well besides Tiger, the harmless cat played by Dom DeLouise. (Who was in every other animated film in the 80's.) The plot goes on for about fifteen minutes longer than it really should. Everything between the fire on the pier and Fivel being reunited with his family is filler and doesn't add much to the film.

What I always liked most about this movie - and still do - is the music. I actually wish it was even more of a musical. The duet between Fivel and Henri the French sculptor pigeon, "Never Say Never," is charming and one of my favorite parts of the movie. The gorgeous ballad "Somewhere Out There" has since become something of a standard. The background score is beautiful and moving as well. I was glad I found that soundtrack cassette a while back.

I recommend this for fans of animation, Don Bluth, and families with older kids who can handle the melodrama and scary sequences. I generally prefer the non-Bluth sequel that came out a few years later, Fivel Goes West. I may try to get to that one later in the week.

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