Walt Disney Home Video presents
The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary (1981)
"Tod, those days are over. I'm a hunting dog now."- Adult Copper (Kurt Russell)
Stars: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell
Other Stars: Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Sandy Duncan, Keith Coogan, Corey Feldman
Director: Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens
MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:22m:34s
Release Date: 2006-10-10
DVD ReviewDisney's 1981 film, The Fox and the Hound will always hold a special place in my heart, as it's one of the few movies I ever attended with my grandparents. I remember this occasion like it was yesterday, but I haven't seen this hand-drawn animated feature in years. Walt Disney Home Video has made it easy to reacquaint myself with these fond memories thanks to their new release.
While not considered a "classic" along the lines of Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid, this unforgettable tale has stayed with me and surely audiences everywhere. Granted, the titular animals are as cute as can be, and having them on screen for 90 minutes doing anything would have proved adorable. However, there is such substance and humanity to this story of true friendship that it has instills the sort of values that will stay with children forever.
Tod the fox and Copper the dog meet when they are very young. Tod is brought by Big Mama (Pearl Bailey) to the home of Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan) after his mother is killed by hunters. Meanwhile, Copper arrives at the home of a neighbor, Amos Slade (Jack Albertson), in an effort to train him as a hunting dog. Of course, Copper is being trained to hunt foxes, but these young animals don't realize this as they bond with each other. Their true natures come full circle when they are older, as Copper (Kurt Russell) realizes he best friend, Tod (Mickey Rooney) is now his enemy.
With this being one of the weaker Disney stories, it has to rely a great deal on the vocal performances. Fortunately, they don't disappoint, especially when it comes to the wonderful work of Rooney and Russell as the adult Copper and Tod, respectively. The younger versions of these characters are prominently featured as well, with Keith Coogan (Young Tod) and Corey Feldman (Young Copper) doing a fine job bringing them to life. Pearl Bailey is another standout, with her distinctive voice reigning over every scene she's in. The trio of directors stays true to the book by Daniel P. Mannix, keeping the story flowing along and avoiding the "too many cooks" problem that could have muddled things. It's pretty impressive when such a by-the-numbers tale can still be worth revisiting after 25 years.
It's visually where this film stumbles among the rest of the Disney canon, even by 1981 standards. Granted, this was years before The Little Mermaid came along to begin the Disney renaissance, but we still expected a bit more visual flair from the studio. While the title animals are drawn quite well, the animators seem to have trouble with the human characters, doing little to set them apart from each other. It's these little details that make characters unforgettable, and there just aren't any memorable homo sapiens here. Despite the overall lack of flashiness, there are enough unique animated sequences that will stick in viewers minds and make such an anniversary disc worth grabbing.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: While the movie was shown in theaters in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, Disney has chosen to present it in a full-frame format on this disc. This would be slightly excusable if this was a bare-bones release, but for a "25th Anniversary" edition, I expect much better from all aspects of the DVD. It really doesn't look like much has been done to improve the quality of the animated images since the first DVD release either. At least some remastering should have been done to even warrant a new disc. Still, the colors are usually bright, and the images as crisp as can be for a 25-year-old film, but the film deserves a better video fate for its anniversary.
Image Transfer Grade: C
|English, French, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn't as disappointing, but is far from impressive. Everything generally stays up front, which keeps the music from really exploding into an involving experience. The dialogue is nice and clear, but an overall lack of dynamic range is a case of not utilizing the full potential of the 5.1 format.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
10 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cars, The Fox and the Hound 2, Peter Pan: 2-Disc Special Edition, Meet the Robinsons, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Tinker Bell, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: A Kingdom of Kindness, Air Buddies, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mousketales
Packaging: Keep Case
- Sing-Along Songs: "The Best of Friends"
- Forest Friendship Game
- DVD Storybook: "New Best Friends"
- The Fox and the Hound Art Gallery
- Bonus Shorts - Lambert the Sheepish Lion and Lend a Paw
Sing-Along Songs: The Best of Friends is a two-minute clip from the film that has the lyrics on screen for the kids.
The Forest Friendship Game is basically hide and seek where younger kids can choose to simply find Tod, or search for his group of friends as well. DVD Storybook: New Best Friends is a Tod and Copper "book" told on-screen that can be viewed with or without a narrator.
Wrapping things up are a collection of Sneak Peeks for other Disney Home Video releases, an art gallery, and Passing the Baton, a six-minute piece that explores the history of the film. This informative segment consists mostly of interviews with numerous animators who discuss where The Fox and the Hound stands among the rest of Disney's features.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsWhile not the most respected or widest-seen of Disney animated features, 1981's The Fox and the Hound is a solid effort from the studio. This 25th anniversary is a solid upgrade over the previous DVD, in terms of extras and audio, but the video brings this release way down.
Chuck Aliaga 2006-10-23