THE FOX AND THE HOUND
The Fox and the Hound begins very well. There is an excellent (and particularly well scored) opening one that recalls Bambi (1942) with a fox being hunted and then in a sudden reversal shown not to be carrying prey but running with its own child, before it is joltingly shot. The rest of the film continues well, with the scenes with the anthropomorphic animals being conducted with an endearing cuteness. What is particularly good during these early scenes is how the film contrasts a sense of innocence with a knowing sadness, the sense that the happy play between the young friends is tempered by the knowledge that they will grow into adult nemeses. During these sequences, The Fox and the Hound holds some of the quality that sits up there along with Disney classics like Bambi.
Unfortunately, the film never sustains it. The Fox and the Hound was made in the period when Disney were self-consciously crafting what they did within the framework of being family entertainment, where everything came with the expectation that it must be not too threatening for children. The scene where Chief is killed and in seeing Coppers friendship turning to hate is good but the emotional impact of the scene is wrecked almost immediately after by the revelation that Chief wasnt killed, merely injured in the fall. It is this crippling belief that Disney fell into that no child should ever be put through the trauma of seeing a likeable character killed off.
Moreover, The Fox and the Hound was also made at a point when Disneys animation was dominated by a strong slapstick element many of the cutsie scenes with Tod and Copper frolicking topple over into a silliness. The latter third of the film with Tods romantic infatuation and the scenes with he and Vixen dancing about are far too twee and drag down the adult emotions that the earlier sections had. Most ridiculous is the feelgood ending one where the granny is seen bandaging the foot of the curmudgeonly farmer and we are suddenly supposed to forget that he has been trying to murder the hero; where the caterpillar that the two birds have been trying to eat throughout turns into a butterfly and they are amazed; where the two childhood friends rediscover their friendship again; where Tod settles down with his lady love and, of course, Chief is fine and still alive again. The film also features some bland songs sung by a flat-voiced tenor.
Amid the host of dvd-released sequels to their animated films that they turned out during the 1990s-00s, Disney inevitably sequelised The Fox and the Hound as The Fox & the Hound 2 (2006).