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The Fox and the Hound: Gold Collection DVD Review

"The Fox and the Hound" movie poster The Fox and the Hound

Theatrical Release: July 10, 1981 / Running Time: 83 Minutes / Rating: G

Directors: Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens

Voice Cast: Mickey Rooney (Adult Tod), Kurt Russell (Adult Copper), Pearl Bailey (Big Mama), Jack Albertson (Amos Slade), Sandy Duncan (Vixey), Jeanette Nolan (Widow Tweed), Pat Buttram (Chief), John Fiedler (Porcupine), John McIntire (Grumpy Badger), Richard Bakalyan (Dinky), Paul Winchell (Boomer), Keith Coogan (Young Tod), Corey Feldman (Young Copper)

Songs: "Best of Friends", "Lack of Education", "A Huntin' Man", "Appreciate The Lady", "Goodbye May Seem Forever"

The Fox and the Hound & The Fox and the Hound 2: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray & DVD combo pack cover art -- click to read our review.

Since the publication of this review, Disney has reissued The Fox and the Hound in a 25th Anniversary DVD and a widescreen 30th Anniversary Edition 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD combo with its sequel The Fox and the Hound 2. To read those reviews instead, click here: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray & DVD, 25th Anniversary DVD.


Review by Jason Seiver

The Fox and the Hound came out in the midst of a period most feel was lackluster for Disney animation.
Yet, to group it with some of the other movies from that era, as a bland or insipid piece, would be shortchanging it. While it has pitfalls, there are things that make it a genuinely enjoyable film.

The story centers on a fox and a hound (in case you didnít realize from the title) who become friends when very young. However, as they grow older, they begin to realize that their friendship is impossible, since the hound is being brought up as a hunting dog. This made for a compelling dynamic, something where I was very interested in the outcome. What made it all the better was that the ending wasnít sugary sweet or clichť, as one might expect. Itís bittersweet, yet satisfying.

Characters throughout are pretty entertaining too. Thereís a running gag with two birds who chase a caterpillar, leading to some amusing incidents. The owl Big Mama, while a bit underdeveloped, is quite likeable. Perhaps the most touching is the personality of Widow Tweed, whose loneliness leaves her when saving and raising the young fox. Because of her, a scene later on in the film becomes rather emotional.

While some may consider it debatable, I thought the animation was noticeably better than the animated movies that came recently before it. This most likely has something to do with the fact that a slew of new artists, that would go on to helm '80s and '90s Disney animation, collaborated with Walt-era animators. The best evidence of the animationís improvement is during the gripping climax, as the camera sweeps in every direction to portray a frantic bear attack. For me, this was definitely the first tell-tale sign of the greatness to come later in the decade.

The Fox and the Hound isnít devoid of problems though. I have the same criticisms for it, as I do all the films from around it: slow pacing, lack of energy and boring music, to name a few. Still, it improves on its predecessors in enough ways for me to hold it in higher regard.

Released for the first time on DVD in May 2000, The Fox and the Hound became a part of the Gold Collection line. The movie comes in a standard, white amaray keepcase that holds the single disc and a one-page insert with a chapter listing and bonus material highlights. The packaging states that the DVD should include a ďLetís Be FriendsĒ booklet that serves as a guide for parents on the importance of friendship. (No, it wasnít written by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.) However, my copy didnít come with this booklet, so perhaps the inclusion of it has been phased out.

Buy Fox and the Hound: Gold Collection from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Fullscreen
Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 2, 2000
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99

VIDEO and AUDIO

The movie is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. A source of some confusion is whether or not this is the original aspect ratio. Information on this subject is scarce,
and itís additionally difficult to believe itís a Pan-and-Scan job considering the DVD releases of the Disney animated titles from the same time period are all exhibited in their original ratio. There are no signs of distinct cropping, so the original frame probably wasnít much wider than 1.33:1. However, the packaging states that the transfer has been modified from its original version, formatted to fit standard television screens. Therefore, it can be assumed that 1:33.1 is not the original ratio. (For more information on this issue, please visit our page on Original Aspect Ratio.)

The picture quality itself can be both good and bad. Most of the scenes look sharp, with accurate colors, but there are sections that consistently rear their head which appear overly soft with washed out hues. Positively, there isnít much dirt or print imperfections I was aware of. While it could be improved, as a whole, the presentation was good.

Dolby Surround 2.0 serves as the audio. Dialogue is crisp and clear, while some of the sound effects can be a bit fuzzy and the music can be thin. Itís still acceptable.

BONUS MATERIALS

Only 3 main extras appear. The first is a Theatrical Trailer (1:20) for 1988 re-release of The Fox and the Hound - good to have, but why not the original trailer? The next few are typical Gold Collection bonuses. A Read-Along offers a virtual book that retells the movieís basic story, giving the option of reading solo, or having a narrator read to you (16:40). Lastly, a trivia game asks 17 multiple-choice questions about the movie, and tallies the players score at the end, ranking them from ďPupĒ to ďWise Owl.Ē

Preview trailers play before the menu loads for the Gold Collection DVDs in general, and the DVD release of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. These can be accessed via the main menu too.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Fox and the Hound is one of the better movies to come out of the 70ís and early 80ís. The Gold Collection issue is unspectacular, though the presentation quality is good enough. While the aspect ratio is improper, it probably doesnít cut out much of the film, like other Pan-and-Scan jobs. Since this is a title that wonít be likely to get a DVD upgrade, I recommend this release to anyone who wants the film, as long as they can put up with the incorrect aspect ratio.

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The Fox and the Hound & The Fox and the Hound 2: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray & DVD combo pack cover art -- click to read our review.

Since the publication of this review, Disney has reissued The Fox and the Hound in a 25th Anniversary DVD and a widescreen 30th Anniversary Edition 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD combo with its sequel The Fox and the Hound 2. To read those reviews instead, click here: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray & DVD, 25th Anniversary DVD.

UltimateDisney.com | DVD Review Index | Disney Animated Classics Page | Search UltimateDisney.com

Related Reviews:
The Fox and the Hound & The Fox and the Hound 2: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD ē The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) | The Rescuers (1977) | Robin Hood (1973)
The Watcher in the Woods (1981) | The Devil and Max Devlin (1981) | Dragonslayer (1981)
The Great Mouse Detective (1986) | Oliver & Company | The Little Mermaid (1989)
Cheetah (1989) | Tron & Tron: Legacy (1982) | Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) | The Black Cauldron (1985)

Reviewed March 14, 2004.