Monday, January 11, 2010

REVIEW: The Fox and the Hound

Being on something of a Disney kick of late, I decided to start catching up with some of the animated features I'd never seen.

Well - I'm not really sure I'd never seen The Fox and the Hound. Watching it Sunday night, it felt vaguely familiar to me, as if I had seen it years ago and then forgotten about it - which is odd, because The Fox and the Hound came out in 1981, and I have much clearer memories of The Rescuers, which was released in 1977. Perhaps the difference is that I know I saw The Rescuers in a theater, and I did not see The Fox and the Hound until some years later on TV, if indeed, I saw at all.

But I have clear memories of The Fox and the Hound now, and they're mostly fond ones, even if they are rather ... recent, shall we say.

The movie actually starts somewhat shakily. The early scenes, with Todd and Copper as kids, are just this side of too cute, even for this sentimentalist. The sidekicks Boomer the woodpecker and Dinky the finch are neither particularly funny nor memorable. And "The Best of Friends" aside, the songs and score are indistinct at best.

However, the core characters are very strong, and the ending, with its frightening bear attack, is just about as efffective as anything in Bambi. Because that central friendship is so solid, I got caught up emotionally in it, to the point where this sentimentalist got misty-eyed, as he so often does with Disney movies.

The DVD has a featurette  about how this film marked a turning point in Disney animation. The legendary "Nine Old Men," from Walt's era,  including Wolfgang Reitherman, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston started the picture, then  the new generation of animators finished it, including Glen Keane (Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin) and John Musker and Ron Clements (The Littler Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog) finished it. The featurette runs a mere 10 minutes, I would have loved to see something at least a little more in-depth, considering the film was so pivotal.

 I rate the film just slightly below The Rescuers, if only because of the nostalgia that film carries for me, but The Fox and the Hound recalls both the glories of Disney's past - and points the way to the renaissance of the then-future.



Allison Dickson said...

That was the first movie I had to console my daughter to after she saw it. She was so heartbroken by the end of the friendship.

Sir Critic said...

Ah, milestones. ;)