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The Fox and the Hound

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Fox and the Hound

Starring: Mickey Rooney, Pearl Bailey
Director: Art Stevens
Rated: G
RunTime: 83 Minutes
Release Date: July 1981
Genres: Animation, Kids

*Also starring: Sandy Duncan, Pat Buttram, Jack Albertson, Corey Feldman

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

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 masseuse.

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.

THE FOX AND THE HOUND runs 1:23 which is too long given the dearth of ideas in the script. It is rated G, but there are some scenes that have the potential to scare kids under say 5. These include a enormous and threatening grizzly bear, snarling animals fighting, and animals constantly being shot at with a shotgun. My son Jeffrey (almost 7) saw the movie for the first time with me and he liked it. There is not enough here for me to recommend the film, but I did like all of the characters so I am giving the film **.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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