The Fox and the Hound
THE FOX AND THE HOUND (1981) is a Disney animated movie now
available on video. It tells the story of a fox named Tod
(Keith Mitchell as the younger Tod and Mickey Rooney as the
older Tod) and his friend, a hunting dog named Copper (Corey
Feldman as the younger Copper and Kurt Russell as the older
Copper). The story has two distinct parts. In the first, these
two natural enemies are constant playmates. In the second,
they grow up and Copper, along with his hillbilly owner Amos
Slade (Jack Albertson) and Amos's other hunting dog Chief
(Pat Buttram), are out to kill Tod with Amos's shotgun.
The movie starts like the older
Disney movies do. There is a long title sequence with slow
music and no action, but the ending has no credits at all,
just the words, "The End." My son was eager for
me to hit fast forward during the opening credits. How movies
have changed. Today, we have action and rock music during
the opening credits, and the ending credits go on forever
thanking everyone right down to the caterer and the star's
Once the directors (Ted Berman,
Richard Rich, and Art Stevens) yell action, we have Tod and
his mother being chased by hounds and hunters. In the distance
and off camera, little Tod's mother is killed. This is handled
so low key that youngsters will probably not even realize
it happened. Tod is then taken in by an Owl named Big Mama
(Pearl Bailey). Big Mama in turn finds a home for Tod with
Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan).
Eventually Tod meets Copper,
and being young and innocent, they do not believe that they
will ever become enemies. They spend the first half of the
movie frolicking in the forest. This part, which is actually
over half of the elapsed time, is the main problem with the
film. The zillions of writers (Ted Berman, Larry Clemmons,
Vance Gerry, Steve Hulett, Earl Kress, Daniel P. Mannix, Burny
Mattinson, David Michener, and Peter Young) on the film are
able to craft characters, each of which are cute and as sweet
as can be. The producers (Ron Miller, Wolfgang Reitherman,
and Art Stevens) get top notch actors and actresses to do
the voices. They forget only one item; they forget to give
the characters anything to do. There is no tension in the
long first part and almost nothing happens. The writers invent
wonderful characters and then run out of ideas. What a waste.
In the shorter concluding part,
Big Mama warns Tod about the fully grown hunting dog Copper, "Listen good Tod, it's either education or elimination."
Tod can not accept the changes and tells Big Mama, "He
won't change and we'll keep on being friends forever."
Big Mama responds, "Forever is a long long time and time
has a way of changing things." The ending to the show
is completely predictable, but this is a kid's show afterall.
The drawing (Daniela Bielecka,
David Block, and Phil Nibbelink) is beautifully realistic
with bright and lively colors. Granted, this is not art on
par with THE LION KING, but it is impressive in its own right.
The music (Buddy Baker) is pleasant, but the songs are poor
and totally forgettable