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The Media Man Reviews: The Fox and the Hound (ft. The Wandering Fox)


Disney month is still in full swing my friends and I'm here again to review one of my favourite films to come from the company. You already saw me talk about it last week in my Top 10 Favourite Disney Films but now I can give a full in-depth review. It's time that I reviewed one of Disney's greatest and most underappreciate masterpieces. That movie...is The Fox and the Hound.


Based on the book of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix, The Fox and the Hound has an...interesting history with the studio. Released in 1981, this movie marked when the old Disney crew of the classic age was starting to move out and the new crew that would give us the Disney Renaissance was moving in. Curiously, even TIM BURTON worked on this as an animator for Vixey! No really! It was also around this film's production when Don Bluth quit the studio and went his own way as an animator...with a very up-and-down track record but that requires its own post. The film has its fans but compared to most Disney films, this tends to be more overlooked among the really beloved titles like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Frozen, Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella and more. It's a pity because this film deserves more recognition.


So this review will be here to give it the attention it deserves. Is this an underrated classic or should we let Amos Slade hunt this movie and hang its skin on his wall? Let's find out. But first, I must introduce my long time friend and top contributor for he'll be joining me in this review. Let's welcome to the blog once again The Wandering Fox!


The Wandering Fox: Hi Media Man! Thanks for this. Kinda fitting, I’m a fox mask wearing guy and here we are talking about The Fox and the Hound. I always loved this movie as a kid and I still adore it to this day, having it on my top 5 favourite movies list. This taught me a great deal about growing up and the friendships we make and how we must forge our own path in life. Having lived a life in which I’ve struggled to fit in the wider world, a school life I’d rather not really look back on, I feel like I learnt a lot from Tod’s story.


This film is the reason why I love foxes. How can you watch this and not think of how beautiful they look? Tod as a cub is adorable, he grows into a handsome gorgeous boy, and Vixey is a beautiful vixen. Since then I’ve always been on the lookout for foxes outside my home, I visited parks which foxes are looked after in, and my favourite Sonic character is Tails, a kind, sweet brave genius fox boy.


I can still say the ending left my heart, at such a young age, thump harder than ever and I desperately wished Disney made a sequel, one about Tod and Vixey teaching their kids about life and growing up, and if Tod would ever meet Copper again. We did get a sequel, which….eh, could’ve been better. But hey, enough of that, we’re here to talk about the original movie and why it is one of Disney’s best ones!


Media Man: That we are my mate, so let's get started:


Section 1: The Story


The Fox and the Hound tales the tale of its titular duo, a fox named Tod and a hound named Copper, whom become best friends as children but unfortunately, life gets in the way for foxes and hounds are meant to be enemies. Their friendship is ultimately tested thanks to their clashing owners and nature standing in their way and ultimately it's a battle to determine if their friendship was ever meant to be.


This movie is notorious for being one of Disney's more dramatic movies and I'm not exaggerating on that part. Even the way the movie opens up is pretty ominous! We get just a misty forest background for a few minutes, no music and the only sounds we get are occasional animal noises and then suddenly, Tod's mother enters the picture and it's an intense scene where she's fleeing for her life with her baby in tow! And then she gets shot! Like damn Disney, trying to traumatize your audience before we're even ten minutes into the movie?! Talk about setting the tone right off the bat...


But the movie isn't all like this of course for it does have some lighter moments to break up the dramatic moments but we'll cover more of the tone later on. For now, let's focus on how the story is told. I feel the movie paces itself rather well with the first act establishing the settings, the characters and their relationships to one another and setting up what's to come with Tod and Copper's friendship. Then the second act has a passage of time to make sure the movie doesn't drag too much and it really kicks into gear once Tod is chased by Amos and Chief again and the third act gives us everything the movie was building up to with one hell of a thrilling climax that remains one of Disney's scariest yet most exciting scenes ever put to film. Some might feel the first half drags a bit and yes the Dinky and Boomer comedic hijinks are pretty much filler but I feel the film's pacing is near enough perfect. It never feels like it drags and the way certain scenes are paced out help in building up the tension, especially during the third act when Amos and Copper are hunting and chasing Tod. It's a pity most movies nowadays feel the need to be as quick as they are because this kind of pacing really helps in telling this kind of story.


The Wandering Fox: I think what helps with the story is how it truly feels self contained before widening as it goes on, the childhood centred arc is contained mostly within the homes of their respective owners and familiar characters, like Big Mama being the wise teacher to Tod and the audience surrogate as well as Widow Tweed being his adoptive mother, you have Chief being the grumpy yet caring older figure to look over Copper, you have this feeling of homeliness and comfort with them at the beginning, yet once Copper leaves you feel the wider world beginning to creep in with Big Mama showing Tod the skins of Amos’s hunt, and as Big Mama said in this moment “Forever is a long time. And time has a way of changing things” and surely enough time does indeed change everything.


The second act is appropriately shot in the dark with Chief’s near fatal injury in chasing Tod and Widow Tweed tearfully leaving Tod in the forest, the rain literally washing away any warmth or joy the first act gave you, easily telling you there is no going back for Tod now and not even his friendship with Copper might survive this. Even his days with Vixey ends in darkness, albeit romantically, giving you that closure of a new life for Tod.


The third act is truly the most intense and gripping of the movie. Unlike most Disney climaxes before and after this, you mostly have the hero or villain scream a line and you have this element of comical moments in the fight, yet here, with almost no blood, is the most brutal of Disney fights, even the small ones like Tod fighting Copper is brutal, to Tod going one on one with the bear leaves you fearing for the lives of these characters, which I just feel Disney hasn’t been able to capture since then. Bambi was one of the ones which I feel got it right.


Media Man: Oh indeed-y. We'll cover more on how intense the climax is in the animation segment but I feel you summed it up perfectly on how the film builds up and widens its scope and danger factors throughout.


Another thing I adore about the movie are the softer, more heart-warming moments of the film. They not only make the film more pleasant to watch but nicely break up the more dramatic scenes so the film doesn't feel too depressing. Whether it's Big Mama and Widow Tweed being motherly towards Tod or Tod and Copper playing together as children or Tod's developing romance with Vixey, those scenes feel well-earned after some of the darker scenes in the movie. It helps how they're also really effective in giving you that warm, loving feeling you get from moments like that. ^^


And also, there's no real villain in this movie. Some may argue that Amos Slade is the villain but honestly, that feels like a gross oversimplification of the story and character writing. Amos isn't really a "bad guy" per say, even if he is a hunter with a gun. So if we don't count him, the film has no real villain to speak of, and that only makes the story even better in my eyes. The conflict of Tod and Copper's friendship being tested is enough as it is, we don't need a forced villain to add to it. Sometimes all you need is an antagonistic force and your conflict's all set.


So yeah, the story is great for all the reasons we've just mentioned. Is there anything to criticize? Eh...not much, but there's a couple of things to note here. First of all, I agree with many fans that the tone might come off as inconsistent at times. This is one of Disney's darker movies and yet we have comedic wacky hijinks with Dinky and Boomer chasing a caterpillar as if this was a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon and even the scene with Chief chasing Tod for the first time is more played for laughs than anything else while the second time he chases Tod is played completely seriously. Add all that along with the intense climax, Tod making a fool of himself trying to impress Vixey and Chief's near death and you have a similar problem some have with The Hunchback of Notre Dame where the movie gets a bit of tonal whiplash to the point some viewers may find it off-putting. I don't mind it myself, but I DO understand why this is a criticism some may have.


The Wandering Fox: I love the heartwarming moments of Tod’s relationship with Widow Tweed and Big Mama as well as his early days of friendship with Copper, and hey, how can you not love Vixey’s scene? After all the grief Tod was put through, it is a welcome thing to watch and truly peels back the darkness to give you something to love.


I think the only thing I really dislike from the movie is how Big Mama doesn’t get one last scene with Tod after he meets Vixey, like I’d like it if she met with them at the end and assured him all was well at home, but hey, it’s my own thoughts :)


Media Man: Would've been nice to give Big Mama that bit of closure. I also wish we had a moment where Amos apologizes to Widow Tweed and acknowledges Tod isn't so bad after all. That really felt like a missed opportunity for one last bit of character growth before the movie ended. There was at least one book adaptation of the movie that included such dialogue so why didn't the movie?


Also, does anyone other than me kinda get annoyed at how when Copper and Tod's friendship falls apart, neither Copper nor Amos realize that Tod wasn't to blame for anything that happened? I get that the story had to happen the way it did, but surely Copper and Amos could clearly see that what happened was CHIEF'S fault! If Chief had just let Tod go instead of chasing after him in the first place then the whole incident could've been avoided and he wouldn't have nearly died! But no, somehow they think it's Tod's fault and never once hold Chief accountable. I mean he was the idiot who thought chasing Tod across a TRAIN TRACK was a good idea so as I say, Amos and Copper only have Chief to blame for nearly getting himself killed.


Speaking of, many viewers feel that Chief should've died to make Copper's vengeance against Tod more extreme but personally? I don't think that was necessary. Yes it would've made Copper's grudge against Tod more personal but I still feel Copper's grief is completely justified so I don't think sparing Chief was Disney chickening out at the last second. Just because Chief didn't die doesn't mean Copper can't be angry about it. He still nearly died for heaven's sakes and Copper feels responsible for him nearly dying! That's justification enough if you ask me! So yeah, that's a criticism I don't agree with myself. How about you WF?


Wandering Fox: Yeah, I could’ve done with Amos apologising to Widow Tweed. As for the whole thing with Chief, one could argue Tod was at fault for not leaving sooner like Copper told him to, and Amos always had it out for Tod so I think he was looking for any reason to kill him. Keep in mind he didn’t show Chief much sympathy and said “Chief, get back in there before I break your other leg!” Yeah, Chief was faking a whine, but how is Amos supposed to know? As for Copper, I think with him he feels guilty he didn’t scare off Tod quicker enough, so I can see Copper might be blinded by guilt.


Media Man: Fair points all round there.


As is, the film's faults don't detract from the story's strengths at all. It's a solid tale on how prejudice can test even the strongest of friendships and it takes a lot more risks than your average family friendly flick would often take. It may have tonal issues and some unresolved things with the characters at the end, but I still love the story for how well-paced, dramatic, intense, exciting and heart-warming it can be. It hits all the right notes and makes for one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride.


Section 2: The Characters


A strong story needs strong characters to tell it and this movie has those in spades.


Let's start with the first half of the titular duo, Tod (voiced by Keith Coogan as a child and Mickey Rooney as an adult). Tod really has it rough in this movie, being orphaned at such a young age, being chased and shot at by a hunter and his dog, having to watch his best friend be taken away for months, inadvertently getting Chief injured and nearly killed, having to be released by Widow Tweed for his own safety, having to fight his old friend and then nearly getting killed by a bear in the climax! And we act like OUR lives are rough. =P As is, Tod starts off as cute, innocent kid who just wants to have fun but as he grows up, he soon learns that life isn't all fun and games and that as much as he may want to be friends with Copper, life may not work out that way for him. I always feel sorry for this guy and want him to catch a break in the end, which thankfully he does when he and Vixey are able to live comfortably together in the woods with their quarrel against Copper and Amos officially over. Tod is adorable, sympathetic and becomes a much harder fox at the end where he'll do whatever it takes to save himself and Vixey from harm, and the fact he still risked his life for Copper and Amos is extremely admirable. They were hunting him down, yet he still saved their lives in the end. What a guy. ^^


Wandering Fox: Yeah, I think Tod is just a loveable little fox. I love him in both childhood and adulthood, you got this lovely little kid who wants to have a happy life yet doesn’t understand the world around him. He’s your basic lil kid, he is a bit troublesome at times but is a good lil lad. And you know, I often thought of Tod’s first night in the forest akin to that of a teenager leaving home and moving to the big city, struggling to fit in until they find that someone who makes them complete.


I love how in a way, Tod was always the commanding one out of him and Copper, teaching him how to play hide and seek was so adorable with how he told him he couldn’t peek, even in the sequel he always had this thing about him which told you he was always a step far in front of Copper. Tod is also a example of how also not to be someone you’re not as we learn with how he tries to impress Vixey, he makes a fool out of himself but learns he has to be himself with her. And hey, Tod fighting Copper and the bear is an example of fighting to keep the one you love safe.


I want to say as well I loved Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of him, a legendary actor like him in his sixties by this point still had this youthful charming side to him he brought out with Tod.


Media Man: So true. He sure didn't sound like a sixty year old when he voiced Tod!


And of course, here's the second half of the duo, Copper (voiced as a child by Corey Feldman and Kurt Russell as an adult). Copper is pretty much like Tod with his own childlike innocence, but as WF mentioned earlier, he's more a follower and a leader even when the two are playing together. He also can't help but follow his nose once he picks up a scent, which is how he and Tod even met at all. Copper is sweet and fun at first but when Chief nearly gets killed by a train, he becomes more vengeful and angry, which is understandable considering his friend and mentor figure nearly died and it's just sad to watch him become like this in the second half of the movie. He's a hunting dog and sadly, he has to choose whether to follow his training as a hunter and accept Tod is his prey or he has to go against Chief and Amos and be Tod's friend. That's not an easy decision for anyone to make, which further adds to his story and how conflicted he gets. Thankfully he and Tod do end everything on good terms so it's all good. His best moment for me is when he protected Tod after the bear fight and stopped his owner from becoming a lost cause. Even Amos can't say no to that face, eh?


Wandering Fox: No he couldn’t. And like, Copper himself starts off as this cute little pup who clearly doesn’t understand everything around him either and to watch him become so angry in the second half is truly gutting as you see Copper truly is what he is now. Yet thankfully he has his heart come true in the end with him convincing Amos to let Tod go.


I have to say it’s weird Kurt Russel of all people voiced Copper as a adult, this actor who has done all kinds of movies from adventure, crime, action and drama lends his voice to a Disney character. Yet he still has that charm to him he often has in his other films.


Media Man: Indeed-y. It's a pity Kurt didn't get more lines as adult Copper for he pretty much just stops talking after he says "I shouldn't have let Tod go!" all the way up to after the bear fight when he simply says Tod's name after seeing him exhausted in the water. But he was still great for what he got.


For the supporting cast, let's start with the owners with Widow Tweed (voiced by Jeanette Nolan) and Amos Slade (voiced by Jack Albertson). And yes people, Amos Slade was actually voiced by the same guy who did Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Funny old world, innit? XD


Anyway, Amos Slade is one of those characters you tend to hate as a child but as an adult with a more mature perspective on things, you kinda put yourself in his shoes and understand where he's coming from easier. He maybe a bad-tempered old man who likes to hunt but he's not some evil villain that Tod and Copper have to stop. No, he is shown to be a decent man at heart, especially with how he really does love his dogs, and in the end he was able to let Tod go after prompting from Copper. They could've easily just made him a straight up villain but they didn't and thank goodness for it as he was a more interesting character as a result. The fact his anger is often justified given he sees Tod's antics without context also helps, as does Chief's near death experience. No wonder he kept wanting to shoot the poor fox! So yeah, even if he's not someone I could ever say I liked, I applaud the writers for how they handled Amos and didn't go in the generic, easy route with his character.


Wandering Fox: Yeah, I can say I wasn’t fond of him in my younger years though I kinda see what he had going on him. The sequel did at least show his gentler side more in how he tried to look for Copper. I may not like him personally either but at least he wasn’t this evil doer like the Evil Queen from Snow White.


Widow Tweed was a sweetheart. In fact you already know well she’s a tragic character as she’s a widow. Her husband isn’t there anymore, she’s living alone with only her cow, and a grumpy old guy next door. Tod adopted by her was as much a lovely thing for her as it was for him, cradling him like a little newborn, you could tell she loved him more as a son than as a pet.


Her leaving him in the forest was a gut wrenching thing, the inner thoughts she had as she drove him there tells you how much she needed him. I’m at least glad we last see her with a smile on her face at the end.


Media Man: I know. It was nice to see her looking happier in her last scene before the movie ended. ^^ Overall, Widow Tweed was just wonderful from her loving personality and Jeanette Nolan's warm, motherly performance. Tod couldn't have ended up in the hands of a better human.


For other supporting characters, there's the bird trio of Big Mama (voiced by Pearl Bailey), Dinky (voiced by Dick Bakalyan) and Boomer (voiced by Paul Winchell). Big Mama is very much like Widow Tweed in where she's the loving motherly figure to Tod but also acts like a wise old mentor to him as well, giving him helpful advice whenever possible and gently trying to ease him into reality, as much as he may not want to accept it. She especially proves to be helpful in easing Tod into his new forest life. Dinky and Boomer are mostly comic relief and while their scenes are funny, they are mostly filler and are the cause of the film's tonal whiplash as whenever they're onscreen, the film suddenly becomes a wacky cartoon. I still appreciate them for lifting up the mood at times so the film never felt too depressing so I'm OK with them. ^^ Also Boomer is hilarious to listen to at times because he literally has the same voice as Tigger from when Paul Winchell used to voice him. Like come on, he didn't even try to do a different voice! XD


And of course, got to mention Tod's love interest Vixey (voiced by Sandy Duncan). I'll let you cover her WF.


Wandering Fox: Wasn’t the porcupine voiced by Piglet’s voice actor?


Media Man: Why yes, yes he was. ;)


Wandering Fox: Thought so.


Oh yes, Vixey, brought to life by Tim Burton. Yes, Tim Burton, the guy who gave us Batman 89, Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissor Hands. He animated her, and goodness he did a fine job on her.


Vixey is introduced in the second half of the movie. Vixey is a sweet, kind and helpful vixen who helps Big Mama find Tod. Big Mama knows well Vixey is well suited for Tod and already plans to match them up. I like how Vixey is willing to give him a go even after he lost his temper, and you know, it’s so cute, you have her as this graceful girl who doesn’t dirty herself yet Tod is so out of his element t he splashes through the water but she finds him adorable. Tod is so in love with her it’s just enjoyable. I also like how Vixey is still there at the end, as I was a little worried they forgot her. And hey, who can even forget this iconic line from her after counting seven ducks.


“I think six would be just right”. Wow, Vixey, you descended from Robin Hood as he wanted six kids? XD


Media Man: Foxes like having six kids, don't they? XD


But yeah, Vixey maybe just the love interest for Tod but we love her for being just the fox Tod needed to get out of his depressive slump.


And the only character really left to cover is Chief (voiced by Pat Buttram). Chief is the old timer who's been Amos's faithful hunting hound for years but he gets an unexpected surprise when Amos comes home with Copper and he finds himself becoming a teacher to the young pup. I find it so sweet how he quickly warms up to him in spite of his grumpy attitude and it's clear he and Copper are close friends, even if Chief does get jealous of him when Copper becomes Amos's new favourite. Like Amos, they could've made him a straight up bad guy but they didn't. He's really just a faithful dog obeying his master's wishes and as he was trained to hunt, of course he's in no mood to make friends with Tod. His near death experience also worked for motivating Amos and Copper into trying to hunt Tod for revenge later on.


Wandering Fox: Yeah, Chief was quite the decent character for Copper to have as a mentor :)


Well, that’s the characters. I think I’ll leave the animation side of things to you, but I will say I love this animation, the background, the effects and the darkness they gone with the fight with the bear was all fitting, and done by hand as well, all the while we have the characters so gorgeously animated and brought to life.


Media Man: Indeed-y, so let's delve into it:


Section 3: The Animation


This movie is a landmark in Disney's history for it was around this time when the new animators were coming in and the team of Walt Disney's days were retiring. And needless to say, they started off on a strong note with this one.


I'll start off with the character designs. They naturally have that lovable Disney style that you can only get from this company with the humans and animals all looking stylised and a little cartoon-y but still looking very professionally drawn and designed. From the cutesy looking Tod and Copper as kids to the old, grumpy looking Chief to the distinct looking bird trio and the two elderly humans, everyone looks great here and are all easily recognizable from each other thanks to their distinct looks. I know that I can't stop loving how they drew Tod as a cub in this film for how damn cute he looks. ^^


Now onto the character animation. The designs look great in motion and the animals all move believably to the animals they are while still having more expressive faces and some human body language added to them to make them more flexible in their actions. Big Mama, Dinky and Boomer using their wings as hands is one such example. The characters are all very expressive and convey their emotions well through facial animation and body language and you have the more cartoon-y movements for Dinky and Boomer during their comical mishaps while most of the others are more restrained in their actions. But the biggest thing to note about the character animation is how well they execute it during the intense scenes. I mean Tod and Copper somehow manage to look TERRIFYING when they're growling, snarling and bearing their teeth at each other like savage animals ready to rip each other's throats out! And then you get the animation on the bear during the climax where even if it doesn't seem to be based on any particular species and may be exaggerated in its size, they make it move and act more like an actual bear and not a cartoon-y one to further emphasize its threat level and predatory nature. The black fur and red eyes especially gives it a nightmarish appearance like it's some kind of shadow demon about to lay waste to the mortal realm and it helped in making it look so menacing when it attacks Amos, Copper and Tod. The character animation is on point for everybody here and the animators really pulled it off.


Speaking of pulling it off, the great character animation helps during many of the film's comical, dramatic or touching moments too. The comical scenes with Dinky and Boomer and the first chase with Chief and Amos are emphasized by the more zany tone and fast-paced action that makes the comedy very effective here while the second chase with Chief and Amos and the climax in the forest that starts with Copper and Amos hunting Tod down and ends with a bear fight is executed more seriously to raise the tension and emphasize the danger levels. I even call the bear fight one of the scariest Disney scenes ever because of how intense it gets! Glen Keane was responsible for animating that fight and needless to say, he NAILED it! The bear was absolutely terrifying and it really does feel like our heroes could DIE as they fight it!


And finally, the backgrounds look absolutely gorgeous. The backgrounds are painted and while the locations aren't exactly the most flashy or creative scenes ever, they still look brilliant onscreen with the lush forests and the quiet country setting where Widow Tweed and Amos Slade live. They even use the backgrounds as a way to set up the mood or to emphasize certain emotions like with the opening scene where it's all misty, murky and quiet with nothing around until Tod's mother appears or how the forest seems to get darker the further Tod walks through it as he unknowingly strays towards Amos and Copper. It's like the forest is a visual metaphor for the danger Tod is about to find himself in: dark and ominous and it gets more intense the closer he is to the danger.


I don't really have any faults with the animation. It's some of Disney's finest work and a fantastic first impression for the new team that was coming in to replace the old at the time. It's gorgeous to look at and beautifully executed in all the right ways. If anything could tell the Disney company their animation studio was going to be in good hands after this movie, it was THIS animation.


Overall


And that's The Fox and the Hound for ya. What else can we say? It's a classic and one that deserves more recognition.


Wandering Fox: A film which I hold dear to my heart and I tell anyone wanting to watch a movie you best go watch that one.


Remember, time has a way of changing things. But love? Love lasts as long as time, and whether it’d be Widow Tweed’s love for Tod, Amos’s love for Copper and Chief, or the love between Tod and Vixey, love will be there.


Media Man: A lovely takeaway from the movie if I say so myself. ^^


The Fox and the Hound may have some tonal issues, but the movie is still an all time great from beginning to end. The story is well-paced and carries all sorts of emotional feels, the characters are strong, the action is intense, the tender moments are very sweet and the animation is beautiful. I'd recommend this to not just Disney fans, but animation fans in general for it's a movie that has to be seen. If you're not fond of more dramatic and emotional films then you may want to skip this but otherwise, I highly recommend watching it. The film is as beautiful as Tod and Copper's friendship that we wished would never end...


And that's it for this review. I hope you enjoyed it and I'd love to hear your thoughts down below. And massive thanks to The Wandering Fox for collabing with me on this review. ^^


Wandering Fox: You are so welcome :)


Media Man: Cheers again. ^^


Tomorrow, we take a quick break from the Disney 100th Anniversary specials for I'll be reviewing the latest Star Wars Disney+ exclusive series, Ahsoka. PLEEEEEEEASE let it be good...

2 hozzászólás


I really need to watch this movie.


I learned interesting trivia about it. I mean, COrey Feldman? Tim Burton? Sounds good.

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Vendég
2023. okt. 12.
Válasz címzettje:

You do, mate, it’s a heartwarming movie.


Yeah, Tim Burton was a big stunning thing of this movie, you will look at Vixey and think Tim Burton.

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