Fox And The Hound/Fox And The Hound 2
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Fox And The Hound/Fox And The Hound 2

Ever since the Blu-ray format was made the official home theater high definition format the movie studios and distributors have been rushing to re-master their films to compete in this new slice of the market place. One studio that has remained in the vanguard continuing to provide the best in family entertainment is the Walt Disney Studio. For several generations they have dominated family entertainment setting the bar for every aspect of family amusement from television to theme parks. While many studios concentrate on their major accomplishments Disney has expanded this concept to include some of their lesser movies. It should be noted that in the case of Disney animated movies even their second tier works are considerably better then the best other studios have to offer. This is the case for a little Disney hit that is a family favorite ‘The Fox and the Hound’. Although my daughter preferred the tradition Disney canon of princess movies she has always been an animal lover and therefore drawn to the other Disney archetype, the cute talking animal. Besides the long line of princesses these cuddly, plush toy ready characters are some of the most memorable in the Disney achieves. True to the Disney dedication to giving their audience what they want even a title like ‘The Fox and the Hound’ gets a regal treatment. It comes to high definition as part of a three disc set complete with the follow-up direct to video movie, ‘The Fox and the Hound 2'. The first disc presents both films in Blu-ray with discs two and three dedicated to standard DVD editions of each film. The Blu-ray format affords more than enough room to hold both relatively short movies without compromising quality. This is reinforced with an entire DVD dedicated to a single film. This is a smart marketing ploy since it is doubtful if the second film would be able to support sales figures on its own but as an extra provided along with the original film it makes for a very pleasant family afternoon double feature. The inclusion of the DVD copies makes this set suitable to keep the kids occupied during those family road trips.

The original story and characters were developed from the Daniel Mannix's novel’ The Fox and the Hound’. As is the case with many of the Disney movies this one presents a strong didactic message sugar coated to make it palatable for the youngest members of the audience. In this instance the moral of the story is friendship can overcome even the staunchest prejudice inferred by parental and societal expectations. It is sort of the kinder, gentler version of the lesson made in the song from ‘South Pacific’ ‘carefully taught’. Here, the older generation has decreed that a fox and hound must be mortal enemies with only one end possible; the hound leads people to kill the fox. This could easily become a very dark subject but fortunately Disney has been handling death repackaging it for children for longer than most of us have been alive. The odd couple established here is between two very young critters, a red fox named Tod (voiced by Keith Mitchell) and a hound dog named Copper (voiced by Corey Feldman). Traditionally the two should be bitter enemies buy circumstances were such that instead became the best of friends. Two to Disney format Tod is an orphan, Walt must have had some serious mommy issues that extended here to both of the pup’s parents and manifested with Tod’s mother getting shot by a hunter. Sympathetic to his plight he is befriended by Big Mama (voiced by Pearl Bailey) the owl, along with her two friends Boomer (voiced by Paul Winchell) the woodpecker, and Dinky (voiced by Dick Bakalyan) the finch, who arrange for the young fox to be taken in by Widow Tweed (voiced by Jeanette Nolan). Baby Boomers will readily recognize the vocal talents of Paul Witchell as a then exceptionally popular ventriloquist, host of several children’s shows and the first man to patent an artificial heart. The voices of the older versions of the unlikely friends were provided by another couple of well known actors; Mickey Rooney for the young fox and Kurt Russell as the puppy.

The second film here, ‘The Fox and the Hound 2’ features the voices of Patrick Swayze and Reba McEntire covering the time when the friends were growing up, a time span skipped over in the initial feature. While this movie was released as direct to video and never considered part of the illustrious Disney animated canon it is a gentle, enjoyable film. True, there was no overwhelming need for this second movie but that is considering the criteria from an adult perspective. They are quick to refer to profits as the motivating factor and certainly this was a motivation but that does not negate the fact that kids would want to see it. They are not going to look at this with the same critical eye as a grown-up. This is a cute flick intended to entertain the kids even if the appeal for the parents is diminished from the first movie.

Features:
Disc 1 (Blu-ray):
Unlikely Friends - A fun, fascinating collection of stories about surprising friendships within the wild animal kingdom

Disc 2 (DVD):
Passing The Baton: The Making Of The Fox And The Hound Featurette
The Best Of Friends Sing-Along Song

Disc 3 (DVD):
The Making Of The Music - Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
You Know I Will Music Video Performed By Lucas Grabeel

Posted 08/10/11

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