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THE FOX AND THE HOUND
25th Anniversary Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Jeanette Nolan, Sandy Duncan, Pat Buttram, Keith Mitchell, Corey Feldman
Directors:  Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Walt Disney
Features:  See Review
Length:  83 Minutes
Release Date:  October 10, 2006

“We’ll keep on being friends forever.”

“Darling…forever is a long, long time.  And time has a way of changing things.”

Film ***

The Fox and the Hound might be considered one of the best of the ‘lesser’ Disney classics, which is hardly a knock.  It’s timeless tale of two friends who are supposed to be enemies has been connecting with audiences for a quarter of a century now…hence the 25th anniversary re-release onto DVD.

It’s about a baby fox named Tod (Mitchell) and a baby hound dog named Copper (Feldman).  As little ones, they don’t even know they’re supposed to be enemies, despite the bickering of their owners (the delightful Nolan and Albertson).  Copper is, after all, expected to be a hunting dog some day, under the tutelage of Chief (Buttram).  When childhood ends, what will become of their friendship?

As adults, Copper (Russell) has to inform Tod (Rooney) that they can no longer be friends, even though he has no wish to be enemies.  All that changes when Copper lets Tod go in a hunt in which Chief ends up hurt.  Blaming Tod and himself, Copper finally becomes determined to do the terrible deed he was raised to do, and forget that Tod was ever his friend.

It takes an incredible climax and teamwork from the unlikely pair in a terrifying fight to teach Tod and Copper that friendship can survive anything…even a world telling you that you have no business being friends.  It’s even a lesson that the humans find worthy!

I confess, my attitude toward this film is sometimes dismissive.  I saw it in the theatres as a kid, and long passages of time elapse between viewings, and during them, I usually remember the movie as decent but nothing special.  Whenever I sit down and watch it, though, fond memories wash back over me and I begin to think that it was always a little better than I gave it credit for. 

Who knows how I’ll feel a year from now, but I’m not writing the review then…I’m writing it now.  And right now I think there’s something special about The Fox and the Hound that’s kept it a quiet favorite for 25 years.

Video ***

I can’t tell if anything new was done for this anniversary release as far as the transfer goes…it’s still in full frame rather than widescreen.  But it was a good looking transfer to begin with, and remains so.  The colors are bright and definition is generally very good throughout, with only a smattering of noticeable aging here and there on the print.

Audio ***

Likewise, the 5.1 audio is a decent mix, with clear dialogue and a fair amount of dynamic range.  The climax with the bear is probably the liveliest scene.  The film lacks the truly memorable songs of other Disney efforts, but Pearl Bailey’s warm voice is a definite plus.

Features ***

There is a new featurette on the making of the movie, focusing on the end of one era and the beginning of another (the studio’s next animated film after this would be The Black Cauldron), not to mention this was the last Disney film to have the participation of the legendary Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.  There’s also an interactive game, a DVD storybook to read along with or listen to, an art gallery, a sing-along for “The Best of Friends”, and the inclusion of a classic Disney short, “Lambert the Sheepish Lion”.

Summary:

The Fox and the Hound has turned 25, and that might make it the perfect time for you to relive this under-appreciated Disney classic with your own kids.  It’s message of friendship is a winning and eternal one.

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