Two childhood animal friends find themselves forced to become enemies.
Year 1, Day 257
BEFORE: Nice segue from yesterday’s The Aristocats, today features another old hand-drawn Disney animation film, The Fox and the Hound. It doesn’t come to mind as easily as other films do, but I do recall watching The Fox and the Hound at least once or twice so I may find parts familiar, or not; I don’t know. I do know it is the penultimate animated film in this leftover chain and another relatively short one clocking in at 83 minutes.
AFTER: The Fox and the Hound starts off with a very Bambi-esque story of a mother fox protecting her child Tod (Mickey Rooney) and ends up being shot by a hunter. From there, the film goes on to show Tod growing into adulthood along with friend Cooper (Kurt Russell). Overall the film has great characters, as has been the norm for these animated films, and some very decent action scenes. But the structure of the film, or rather the differences between the three major time periods, made the story seem jumpy in addition to being a bit predictable.
Many of the great characters in The Fox and the Hound have similar qualities to what made the characters in the other animated films so successful. Tod and Cooper in addition to the supporting animals like Chief (Pat Buttram), the woodpecker Boomer (Paul Winchell), and bird Dinky (Dick Bakalyan) are all funny, relatable, and above all interact with each other like humans despite being anthropomorphized animals. Recurring bits like Boomer and Dinky trying to get a worm and the tense interactions between the two humans make the film its own and provide the bulk of the entertainment. That and the action scenes; mostly chases between Tod and Cooper. Even though it wasn’t as explosive as, say Rango, The Fox and the Hound still built tension and was some great hand-drawn fun.
But there are a few big problems with the story: Cooper’s change of personality and Tod’s encounter with Vixey (Sandy Duncan). The problem with these two plot points in particular is that they are abrupt and undeveloped. Let’s focus on Cooper first. He starts out meeting Tod and the two become best friends. After Cooper goes away for the winter where he learns to be a hunting dog, he returns, a changed dog. Cooper turns on Tod and quickly goes from friendly and willing to save him into someone out for blood, wanting Tod to pay for what he did to Chief. I’m not criticizing the character development that happened; I’m criticizing how it happened. It goes from one to the next and the change is way to abrupt given the friendship Cooper and Tod had. Vixey’s involvement is a similar issue. It’s not that I find Tod and Vixey’s relationship bad for the film, in fact it’s quite an expected turn of events. But it’s the fact that it’s reserved for about five minutes at the end of the film. All both of these examples need are more time to expand and have the changes to old relationships and formation of new ones make sense.
It’s not that The Fox and the Hound was a bad film. Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland are much worse in terms of story, characters, and all around entertainment. With this film you get great characters and a decent story; it’s just marred with a few, relatively big, issues with execution of story. A little more elaboration or expansion of scenes would have gone a long way. I would still recommend making room for The Fox and the Hound at some point; I just wouldn’t rush to see it.
RATING: 3 out of 5