1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #24 - The Fox and the Hound

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #24 - The Fox and the Hound

Disney Movie Review: 24/53 - The Fox and the Hound

Ryan Dosier - The first Disney animated feature of the 1980s, The Fox and the Hound (1981) is also one of the strongest Disney features of the period. It has the elements of great story, great animation, and striking realism. It truly stands out among the other animated features of the 80s.

The film has an incredible and interesting sense of realism throughout. None of the more “adult” story points are spared. We see the Amos the hunter with a truck full of dead animal pelts, we see Todd and Copper turn into bitter enemies, and many other images and ideas that might be restrained in animation today. There are only a few comic relief characters, which also helps maintain the realism, but at times makes the film less fun than some of its predecessors.

The story of The Fox and the Hound is very distinct when compared to other Disney movies. It is surprising and unexpected at times, never falling into cliché. Todd and Copper’s friendship divulges into them becoming enemies quickly, and they are enemies for much longer in the film than they are friends. If anything, this very short showing of their friendship doesn’t give the audience enough time to feel for the characters when they become enemies... but for the most part, it works.

The other issue that hurts The Fox and the Hound is that none of the characters truly stand out or transcend the piece. Much like The Rescuers, the characters are not broadly drawn (pun intended) and fail to be anything more than adorable or animalistic. Thankfully the story is strong enough to make up for the weak characterization.

One final fault in the film is the music. There is one fantastic song (“The Best of Friends”) but the few other songs in The Fox and the Hound just don’t work. Perhaps that’s why there aren’t many other songs to go around, but it seems like there should have been. When you’ve got the fantastic Pearl Bailey doing a voice for you, you should ask her to sing more.

Perhaps The Fox and the Hound's strongest element is the once-again stellar Disney animation. This was the last feature film worked on by any of Walt Disney's “Nine Old Men,” including the incredible Ollie Johnston, who animated young Tod and Copper in the strongest part of the film. There is also a scene with a vicious bear animated by Disney newcomer Glen Keane that stands out brilliantly. Keane would go on to animate the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and you can tell this bear was just a warm-up for that. Animation in a Disney feature would not be this excellent again until The Little Mermaid eight years later.

While The Fox and the Hound is not one of the timeless, franchised Disney classics, it is still a warm, charming, wonderful film. Its many strengths outweigh its weaknesses and elevate it to a realistic, heartwarming work. It may not have the resonance of Bambi, but The Fox and the Hound is another great animated representation of nature from Disney.

3.5/5 Fuzzy Worms

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