Toon Talk: The Fox and the Hound DVD
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by Kirby C. Holt
The Fox and the Hound
25th Anniversary Disney DVD
MPAA Rating: G
Like last week's DVD release, The Little Mermaid, The Fox and the Hound was born during a transitional period within Disney Animation. It was the late 1970s and most of the "elder statesmenâ€? of Disney animators, including the remaining "Nine Old Menâ€?, were retiring, leaving the mantle of tradition to a young group of artists who would grow to become the cornerstones of the rebirth of Disney Animation with films like Mermaid.
Alas, that would be nearly a decade later. With Fox and the Hound, the future superstars of animation (whose names are peppered throughout the credits of Fox like harbingers of the future) were still getting their feet wet; likewise, most of the work of the "old guardâ€? was during the initial stages of production. Thus Fox sits oddly as a mixed bag of the "late greatâ€? and the "not quite there yetâ€?.
But let's be fair here, the animators didn't have much to go on here with regards to the story, a thin one revolving around an orphaned fox who befriends a hunting dog-in-training. One couldn't ask for a more obvious set up for trite conflict; factor in undercooked characters and a glacier-like pace, plus the looming presence of much greater films similar in nature (Bambi, Lady and the Tramp) and the still lingering mantra of "WWWD?â€? ("What would Walt do?â€?), and, well, no one was doing anybody any favors.
Still, there are some glimmers of possibilities. Buddy Baker's sprightly, bluegrass-influenced score stands out, if the mostly unmemorable (and unsingable) songs surely do not. Additionally, Glen Keane's impressive work on the bear attack ups the excitement, albeit much late in the game. The film's strongest moments are in the all too brief early scenes between the two young critters (endearingly voiced by Keith Mitchell and Corey Feldman, pre-infamy) in the bloom of friendship (no wonder the upcoming direct-to-video sequel chose to branch off of this point). Surely these scenes, along with some comic relief with a pair of caterpillar-hunting birds, will charm the youngest of audience members, but even they may lose interest when the film slogs into its dreary second half.