In the tradition of heart-warming films, such as Bambi and Dumbo, comes Disney’s classic tales that taught us the power of friendship in The Fox and the Hound and The Fox and the Hound II, in this special 30th Anniversary 2-Movie Collection. For the first time ever in high-definition, audiences can now experience the brilliant, humor-filled adventures of best friends Copper and Tod in an all-new digitally restored version of the original 1981 film with this new Blu-ray. The Fox and The Hound, Disney’s 24th animated feature released in 1981, marked a changing of the guard from the legendary nine old men to a new generation of animators including Ron Clements, Glen Keane, and John Musker, who would kick off Disney animation’s renaissance that started in the 1980’s with new landmark animated films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and later Aladdin.
The Fox and the Hound starts right off with a tragedy. A young fox (Keith Mitchell) is orphaned when his mother is shot by a hunter. Big Mama the Owl (Pearl Bailey), Boomer the Woodpecker (Paul Winchell) and Dinky the Finch (Dick Bakalyan) bring him to the Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan) who takes him in. She names the fox Tod (because he’s a toddler) and cares for him. Her neighbor, Amos Slade (Jack Albertson) gets a young coon-hound puppy named Copper (Corey Feldman) to join his old hunting dog Chief.
Tod and Copper become playmates and vow to be life-long friends. The two friends have fun playing in the water and running around but Amos places Copper on a leash. Tod says that’s okay and they can play there but he wakes up Chief and angers Amos. Amos tells the Widow Tweed that if he catches her fox on his property again he will shoot. Tod is then kept inside to keep him safe. Soon hunting season begins and Big Mama explains to Tod that foxes and hunting dogs can’t be friends but Tod refuses to hear it.
Winter passes and Copper and Tod both grow up. When adult Copper (Kurt Russell) returns, adult Tod (Mickey Rooney) sneaks out to see him. Copper tells Tod that they are not kids anymore and things are different. Chief wakes Slade and a chase begins. Copper doesn’t want to see Tod get killed and he tries to help Tod escape, resulting in Chief getting injured. Angry, Copper blames Tod for Chief’s injury and he decides to seek revenge along with Slade. The Widow Tweed realizes that Tod is in danger and she sadly takes him to a game preserve, where he meets a female fox, Vixey (Sandy Duncan).
Slade and Copper continue to seek vengeance and they find Tod and Vixey on the preserve. They also find a big, snarling bear. When Slade is caught in his own trap and is unable to get to his gun, Copper leaps to his defense and fights the bear. When it becomes apparent that Copper is no match for the bear, Tod joins the fight to defend his old friend. However it’s just a matter of time before their natural roles put them in conflict again and Copper will soon have to decide where his true allegiance lies.
Although rated G for General Audiences, The Fox and the Hound has some pretty scary scenes. I do not think my three year old is ready for this one right now, as he would be very upset to find the cute little dog or the fox in jeopardy. This movie is pretty much what I would consider classic Disney, which like Dumbo and Bambi, includes some dark aspects to help relay the lesson it’s trying to tell. This tale of how prejudice and society can change relationships due to our expected roles that have been placed on us is a tough one for kids to digest but this film does a good job of it. One of the benefits of the movie is that a lot of children will ask their parents why the two characters are no longer friends which could lead to a good discussion about why and how that could happen.
It’s also interesting to hear so many voices from other Disney features. For example, it was very strange to hear the voice of Tigger coming from Boomer the Woodpecker and Piglet’s voice coming from a porcupine. Maybe I would have more of a soft spot for this one if I remembered watching it as a kid but I just don’t see my family watching this one over and over as it’s a little too intense for my son and he wouldn’t understand the moral message of the film at this point of time.
The Fox and the Hound II is obviously a sequel to the first movie but it doesn’t pick up after those events as expected. I guessed incorrectly that it would have Tod and Copper telling old stories or perhaps be about their grandchildren. Instead it’s just a random story of one of the unrelated events during Tod and Copper’s early friendship which kind of negates the intent of the first film that firmly finalized their final roles that were expected of them. By going back to the early happy days is counter-productive and it would have been a much better movie if they had just continued the original story-line to show the consequences of of those forced roles or perhaps it could be the story of how the two of them could have finally surmounted them.
Instead, in this version of The Fox and the Hound II, Tod (Jonah Bobo) thinks about joining The Singing’ Strays, a group of singing dogs at the county fair that also includes Reba McEntire as Dixie, Patrick Swayze as Cash, Vicki Lawrence as Granny Rose, and Jim Cummings as twin brothers Waylon and Floyd. When Dixie gets into an argument with Cash and walks off the stage, Copper is enlisted to sing with the band after he tells them he’s a stray. He enjoys being in the band so much that he doesn’t meet up with Tod to see the fireworks show which upsets Tod. When Dixie offers some sympathy for Tod and his situation and she encourages him to ruin the upcoming show that a talent scout is supposed to see in order to regain Copper.
Tod does just that by luring Copper’s owner Slade to the fair which ends in disaster and also ruins the Singing Strays’ chance with the talent scout and Copper is kicked out the band. The next day, Copper and Tod admit their mistakes and regrets to each other and join forces to locate the talent scout from the Grand Ole Opry in an attempt to make amends and get the group a second chance with him. The ending shouldn’t surprise anyone which is a big departure from the first film. This film seems to be made for a specific audience that enjoys country music since the film is filled with it.
The Fox and the Hound II has none of the feeling of being an old Disney film that the original one has. It’s significantly shorter and is mostly a musical. Nothing in it would frighten my three year old and he might enjoy all the singing so from a certain point of view it can be recommended. However, since it chooses to ignore the original film’s intentions and skips back to a convenient period of time when Copper and Tod were allowed to be friends, it strikes me as somewhat cowardly attempt to capitalize on the goodwill from the original. Personally I don’t really see why Disney made this this sequel since it has little resemblance to the original film and it’s not even a true sequel.
The Fox and the Hound
Both movies are presented in 1080p high definition. The Fox and the Hound has a 1.66:1 ratio and The Fox and the Hound II is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The remastered version of The Fox and the Hound is a significant improvement over the previous release. For an animated movie made in 1981, the folks at Disney did a good job overall with the restoration. However, the bottom right hand of the screen often had a black line flickering and the close ups appear to have had more restoration than the wider shots. The colors are bright and consistent but there is still quite a bit of visual noise, especially evident when looking at some of the snowy scenes. The Fox and the Hound II is obviously a much newer film and definitely surpasses even the remastered original when it comes to bright vivid colors and image quality overall.
Both films are presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout both and both are good mixes. The first film’s remixed soundtrack is quite good for it’s age but not in the same caliber as Disney’s Diamond Edition releases. Both films utilize all of the channels but of course the second film does a better job of that as it provides more emphasis on the rear channels. Music and effects sound good but again, the music centric sequel comes across better which is understandable as it is the newer film. Fans of the movies should be pleased with the audio for both films. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are available as well as English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. No major complaints for either film.
Usually a Blu-ray includes all the features of the DVD plus extras. In this case, each disc in the 3 disc set has different special features. I don’t like having to put in three different discs just to watch special features. Overall, I expected more enjoyable features.
- Unlikely Friends – This feature looks at unlikely animal pairings of friends in Disney movies and in real life. Question and answer sections asks the viewer which animals would be friends. We learn about symbiosis and animal instincts from a professor.
- Discover Blu ray 3D with Timon and Pumba – A commercial for 3D Blu ray players and TVs. I don’t think you can really advertise 3D in 2D but that doesn’t stop Disney from trying.
- Learn how to take your favorite movies on the go – Disney digital copy and info – Explains digital copies. This is not information I needed. Again, basically a commercial.
The Fox and the Hound DVD:
- “The Best of Friends” sing along – This is Disney Karaoke, with a bouncing Mickey logo over the words. This plays over the clearly unretouched original film and you makes you appreciate the visual quality of the remastered Blu ray.
- Passing the Baton – Animators discus the “old guys” at Disney passing the movie on to the “new guys”. Contains classic footage of an animator watching Pearl Bailey perform her role.
The Fox and the Hound II DVD:
- Music Video “You Know I Will” - Lucas Grabeel’s music video. The way he holds the camera at times during the video and his sideways hat is kind of annoying. Actually, he is kind of annoying throughout the whole video but I’m not a teenage girl, and I’m clearly not his target audience. The kid has a good voice though.
- Backstage Disney: The Making of the Music – Filmmakers and musicians discuss creating the country music for the film in Nashville.
Upon opening the case, I was surprised at how they were packaged – with two DVD’s stacked directly on top of each other. Usually they are separated to prevent damage. I also didn’t like having the special features spread across different discs, especially when there’s so few offered that it makes no sense. Although I watched all three discs to complete this review, I would have expected to find all of these features included on the Blu-ray and would be able to only use that disc for future viewings. Although the sequel seemed unnecessary to me, I’m guessing the music filled sequel will appeal to my son more than the original film. The Fox and the Hound films are not at the top of my list of Disney favorites, but I’m glad to have them as part of my collection. You never know which ones will appeal to your kids at what ages, so I just plan to collect them all whenever they are released on Blu-ray.
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