Toon Talk: The Fox and the Hound 2
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by Kirby C. Holt
The Fox and the Hound 2
MPAA Rating: G
A Little Bit Country
The recent trend in Disney's direct to video sequels is the so-called "midquelâ€?, a new adventure bridging off from some point within the original story, usually when the main characters are still young and cute (and merchandisable). Previous midquels along these lines include the superior Bambi II and the less successful Tarzan II; the most recent example, The Fox and the Hound 2 (available today) falls in to the lesser camp with its trite story, even if it does offer a handful of mildly toe-tapping tunes from some of today's popular country music artists.
And that is the most befuddling aspect of the new film considering that the original Fox and the Hound (recently re-released on a lackluster DVD) was not exactly strong in the music department. The sequel is also more bright and shiny then its predecessor, both in its look (lacking the telltale sketchiness of the Xerox process used in the original) and in its simple-minded yet somehow still convoluted plot.
Flashback to the moment in the original soon after Tod the fox (now voiced by Jonah Bobo) and Copper the hound dog pup (Harrison Fahn) have declared their eternal friendship for one another, yet before adulthood crept in to complicate matters. It seems little Copper has self-esteem issues due to his less then promising hunting lessons with Amos Slade and Chief (Widow Tweed is also around, but Big Mamma and the other bird co-stars of the original have flown the coop for this follow-up).
Left at home when their owner's go off to the local county fair, Tod and Copper break loose to check out the festivities on their own. It is here that they stumble upon a pack of country-croonin' canines called "The Singing Straysâ€?, led by Cash (Patrick Swayze), a mutt with dreams of hitting the big time. Backstage drama with resident doggie diva Dixie (Reba McEntire, with matching red hair) puts those aspirations in danger, until Cash spies Copper and enlists him for an impromptu musical number that puts the crowd on its feet (questionable considering that, although we the audience hear the dogs singing, the human characters only hear dogs barking ... maybe it's a Southern thing). Cash convinces Copper to join the band (even though he is not technically a "strayâ€?), which of course puts a strain on his friendship with Tod. Moreover, Dixie is more then happy to help oust the pup so that she can return to the spotlight ... beside her true love, Cash, of course.
As you can see, the plot centers more on the just plain dumb idea of the dog band at the expense of what should be the main characters, the actual fox and hound of the title. And while fans of Reba McEntire's music and TV sitcom may get a kick out of seeing her play the "villainâ€? of the piece (even if it is a thin variation of Oliver and Company's Georgette), the calculated story - which clocks in at barely one hour - drags, that is when it is not resorting to broad stabs at obvious humor like pratfalls and belches.
The smattering of bonus features found on the disc focus on the most marketable aspect of the new release (this is, after all, a sequel 25 years after the fact), the music. (For the record, the DVD also comes with the "Fast Playâ€? option and a vintage bonus short, Goofy and Wilbur.)