Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Sandy Duncan
Director: Ted Berman, Richard Rich & Art Stevens
Series: The Fox and the Hound #1
Release Date: 10 July 1981
Length: 83 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“Everyone knows foxes and hounds don’t get along. But no one told orphaned fox Tod and bloodhound puppy Copper (voiced by Mickey Rooney and Kurt Russell as adults), who became fast friends when they were little, only to see their instincts drive them apart over time. When Copper’s owners bring him hunting in the game preserve where Tod lives, the canine must decide whether to obey his owners or honor his friendship in this Walt Disney classic. ” — Netflix.com
The Fox and the Hound tries to give a message about being friends no matter what and it kind of succeeds. I think that Disney was hoping that children watching this movie would realize that they can be friends with anyone – no matter what they look like and no matter what their differences are. I do not think that younger children will realize this, as they just see two cute little animals playing and having fun for the first half and then at each other’s throats for the second half. As their friendship did not carry successfully into maturity, I do not know that the message will be received. That said, I do think that this movie shows that maintaining a friendship takes work – on both sides.
This is a pretty slow-paced movie and there is not a lot that happens until the end. However, I felt that the plodding plot was saved by the cute secondary characters in this film. I particularly liked the two birds and their frequent, failed attempts to capture a wily caterpillar. The animals that the fox, Tod, encounters in the wood are also fun and full of personality. The little porcupine was adorable! The voice over talent for these animals was top-notch, too. If you listen carefully, you can tell that the bigger bird’s, Boomer, voice is done by Paul Winchell, the same man who voices Tigger; the helpful little Porcupine’s voice is done by the same man, John Fiedler, who voices Piglet; Vixen is voiced by Sandy Duncan; the adult fox, Tod, is voiced by Mickey Rooney; the young Copper is voiced by Corey Feldman and the adult hound, Copper, is voiced by Kurt Russell. It was fun to try and recognize all of the voices and guess where I had heard them before.
This movie is animated in the same way as The Rescuers and 101 Dalmatians. The colors are a bit more muted and they have those characteristic slightly shaggy lines that they use to draw all of the characters. This is not a favorite for me, but it is a fun movie to watch every once in a while. The new DVD version contains a couple of special features that actually added to the value for me (for once!). The short cartoon “Lambert the Sheepish Lion” is on the DVD and this is one of my favorite Disney cartoons not featuring any of the main Disney characters. It is about poor little Lambert, a lion who was supposed to be delivered to South Africa, but accidentally ended up delivered by the stork to a herd of sheep. He is super shy and scared of everything, until one night a wolf tries to eat his mother and he realizes his true nature. There is another cartoon, featuring Mickey & Pluto, called “Lend a Paw” after “Lambert.” In this one, Pluto accidentally saves a kitten from drowning, and the kitten follows him home. Pluto gets jealous when the kitten eats his food, sleeps in his bed, and steals Mickey’s attention so he tries to get the kitten in trouble. These cartoon are followed by a Sing-along-Song version of “Best of Friends,” which is pretty much the only song in this Disney movie.
There are scenes of hunting, fires, and chase scenes between little animals and the dogs. There is a pretty intense scene at the end where a bear attacks the hunter and his dog, Copper, so everyone ends up fighting the bear to try and get away. If your kids can watch Bambi, they can watch this one. As I said, there is not a lot of action until the end of the movie, where the hunting sequence is so it might catch kids off guard and make them a little scared. Recommended for ages 3 and up.