"The Fox and the Hound 2-Movie Collection":People Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout My Best Friend
To celebrate The Fox and the Hound‘s 30th anniversary, Disney has brought the movie and its direct-to-video sequel to Blu-ray in a 2-movie collection. The Fox and the Hound is a timeless tale of friendship between two unlikely pals. While it was a financially successful film, it also came at a time when the studio had lost its way, and had a most troubled production leading to a film that feels very un-Disney like. Don Bluth was so unhappy he left during the production of this film, to become Disney’s only real competitor until DreamWorks Animation came along. So how does The Fox and the Hound hold up after 30 years? A heck of a lot better than its five-year-old direct-to-video sequel!
The Fox and the Hound starts off with a young fox’s mother getting shot by a hunter, which is like opening up in the middle of Bambi. The fox is then adopted by a kind old lady, Widow Tweed, and named Tod, leading into a pretty bland 35 minutes. Tod befriends Copper, the hound dog next door, who’s being trained to hunt by Amos Slade, who would like nothing better than to skin his neighbor’s pet fox. Tod is warned that their friendship can never last, but he refuses to believe it. It’s only when the movie cuts to them as adults that things really pick up. Copper spares Tod from getting shot, only to have Tod accidentally nearly kill Copper’s mentor. Copper swears revenge. It’s a touching story, about loyalty, life, forgiveness, and friendship.
The Fox and the Hound II, though, is complete garbage. Disney takes the most marketable versions of the characters, (when they’re still kids,) even though it’s from the weakest part of the original movie, and runs with that. It’s a clichéd story about Copper joining a music group (no, really) and Tod gets jealous that Copper no longer spends time with him and tries to sabotage it. And when he succeeds, Copper is angry at him. So Tod feels bad and manages to fix everything. It’s an obvious cash-in with no thought to writing or any sort of effort whatsoever. (Except for its animation, which admittedly is actually very well done.) But good animation does not make a good movie, and this film is proof of that.
Both films are unique though, in the way neither of them have a real villain. Only the original is actually compelling, dealing with how, despite our better judgments, we ultimately conform to society’s expectations of what our roles in life should be. The sequel is just about how everyone is a selfish jerk. While watching this, I wondered, “Why package these two films together?” I think it’s because it wouldn’t cost Disney anything, and no one it their right mind would buy the sequel if it was packaged separately.
Moving on the discs themselves, both movies are presented on one Blu-ray disc, as well as each one on separate DVDs. The picture quality is flawless on the sequel, as it was made digitally, but the original film does not look as good. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it looks fantastic, but not as cleaned up as many of the other Disney films released to Blu-ray. The lines get blurry occasionally on close-up shots, though that could very well be a problem with the original film. There is also what appears to be a little glare in the corner for most of the film, but it’s practically unnoticeable. The only extra on the Blu-ray disc is “Unlikely Friends”, a 10-minute featurette for children about animals who should be natural enemies but are actually friends. (Throughout the whole thing, all I could think of is Peter Venkman saying, “Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!”) For some odd reason, the other bonus features are only on the DVDs. The Fox and the Hound DVD has a “Best of Friends” sing-along and “Passing the Baton”, a neat little mini-documentary full of interesting information about the making of the film. The Fox and the Hound II DVD contains a “The Making of the Music” featurette, as well as a “You Know I Will” music video. Why these were not also included on the Blu-ray, I have no idea, as there is certainly enough room. It’s also a shame to be losing some bonus features from earlier editions of the DVD. I guess Disney will never give this film the attention it deserves as it is not popular enough. But as with The Black Cauldron, we’ll take what we can get.
The Fox and the Hound is an enjoyable film. It’s a small, personal story, and while not epic, it’s still a film worth checking out if you’re bored with Disney’s usual fare. As for The Fox and the Hound II, well, if you’re buying The Fox and the Hound on Blu-ray, you really don’t have a choice. You’re buying the sequel too, if you like it or not. But save yourself the headache and don’t watch it. But I’d still recommend picking up The Fox and the Hound 2 Movie Collection on the merit of the original film alone.