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"The Fox and the Hound 2": For the Dogs

It wasn’t until I reviewed The Fox and the Hound that I discovered that Disney had a sequel in the works. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but if you’re like me, you probably wondered how they could possibly follow up an original that had already tied up all of its own loose ends. Well, as it turns out, The Fox and the Hound 2 gets around this problem by giving us a story about the young Copper and Tod. So it’s not a “sequel” to the earlier film, but it’s not a prequel either. Maybe we need a new word for this kind of in-the-middle-of-the-story follow up. “Midway sequel,” or “mequel,” if you will.

The story of The Fox and the Hound 2 revolves around the budding relationship between Copper and Tod. Although the two have fun together their first summer, Copper feels that, thanks to his faltering hunting training, he’s simply not good at anything. To cheer him up, Tod takes his friend to a local fair that’s passing through town, and there Copper learns to sing country music alongside fellow dogs Dixie (Reba McEntire) and Cash (Patrick Swayze).

Obviously, if you know the first film, that’s not the kind of story you’d be expecting of this second one. Sure, the original had its fair share of songs, and Disney is known for its musicals. But the songs in a Disney feature usually belong to the catchy-but-inoffensive show tunes school of music writing. Whether you enjoy the songs in The Fox and the Hound 2, though, will depend on whether you like country music. Me, I couldn’t wait for them to end.

Like the first film, the second explores the strength and boundaries of the relationship between Copper and Tod. It eventually has Copper learning not to ignore Tod because of his newly won popularity, and the two reconcile and remain the best of friends. This theme, of course, is nearly identical to that of the first movie, making this one seem even more like a waste of time. This could easily have been a stand-a-lone movie, though a new franchise wouldn’t have sold as much as a sequel in an established one, however low on the Disney film-chain the original Fox and the Hound remains.

I can’t recommend The Fox and the Hound 2 to people who were fans of the original, and I can’t recommend it to people who weren’t. The plot is generic, and the story is hampered by the fact that it can’t really develop the characters in ways that might interfere with the later events we see in the earlier film. (Yeah, that’s a confusing thing to describe, but that’s what happens when you’re dealing with mequels.) Maybe as a result, the story wanders away from its own main characters in order to spend time with the secondary characters. This gives the whole thing a “filler” feeling. While the animation and voice acting are fine and even up to theatrical quality in spots, it’s just not worth it to sit through. With a running time of slightly over an hour, this DVD might be good as a very short ride for the kids, but it has nothing for the over-10 crowd.

The DVD
Presented in a standard Amaray DVD case (complete with a “Worth the Wait!” quote from some too-easily-entertained person at NBC-TV), the DVD comes with a reflective foil slip case and the standard Disney advertisements inside. Disc art is simple and the menus are easy to navigate for both young and old.

Video and audio transfers are nearly immaculate. The 16×9 transfer is gorgeous and shows almost no flaws. When the transfer is paired with the film’s DTS audio track (a surprising addition), the movie is almost bearable. While the difference between DTS and 5.1 isn’t always clear to everyone (and it varies greatly by DVD), the DTS here manages to be just a bit clearer and crisper sounding, so if you have the necessary tech to decode it, do so—it’s well worth the audio setup.

The DVD also includes a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film’s music, and it comes with plenty of footage of the composers and artists. There’s also a music video with Lucas Grabeel, and a few games. I’ll also mention the bonus Goofy short (“Goofy and Wilbur”) because it eclipses the feature itself but not by enough to make it worth the purchase price.

Give The Fox and the Hound 2 a rental if you are interested in seeing it, but I can’t see this getting much replay time, even with the younger crowd.

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