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Movie Review: "The Fox and the Hound"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 7/10/1981

Theatrical Release: 7/10/1981

Synopsis

After a young fox’s mother is killed, a motherly owl named Big Mama (Pearl Bailey) comes to the young fox’s aid. She knows she cannot properly care for the young fox herself, so she orchestrates a plan that ends with the young fox being taken in by a lonely old woman (Jeanette Nolan) who lives on her farm. Meanwhile, the woman’s neighbor (Jack Albertson) has just brought home a young hound with the intention of raising him as a hunting dog. Being of a similar age and being neighbors, the fox and the hound become quick friends.

Unfortunately, theirs is a forbidden friendship. Tod is a fox and Copper is a hunting dog. Their childhood friendship was a strong one, but now they have grown, and their friendship is put to the test. Copper’s owner has raised him to be a dedicated hunting dog, and when Tod is caught on the hunter’s land, the hunter is infuriated. It quickly becomes his mission to hunt Tod, and he plans to use the talented Copper to do so.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Tod & Copper (+8pts)

Length of Friendship (-2pts)

Chief (+4pts)

Widow’s Decision (-2pts)

The Animals (+5pts)

Amos (-1pts)

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Pro: Tod & Copper (+8pts)

I may be a little biased when it comes to this movie. When I was a kid, I went through a phase where this was my favorite movie. I had the VHS tape, I watched it constantly, I brought it to relatives houses, and I requested to watch “Fock and Hound!” With all of that in mind, it should come as no surprise that I really liked these two characters, and I really liked their story.

As a kid, it was easy to relate to the playful nature of both of these characters in their childhood, and the forbidden nature of their friendship added a lot of suspense that even a child could pick up on. It was basically Romeo and Juliet, except with friends instead of lovers—and there was no suicide in this movie for obvious reasons. It was a story about friendship, growing up, and what time can do to even the best of friends. Tod and Copper’s story was easy to relate to as a kid and as an adult, and it provided different perspectives,depending on your age when you watch it. All of this made it easy to root for their friendship, and this is why The Fox and the Hound is still one of my favorite Disney movies.

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Con: Length of Friendship (-2pts)

This was an area of the story that could have been handled better. In the grand scheme of this movie, it felt like Tod and Copper were childhood friends for only a couple of days. They played for a bit, they got in some trouble, and then the hunter took Copper on a long hunting trip. I am not trying to suggest that childhood friends have to be friends for a long time in order to be good friends, but developing this friendship more on screen would have helped the viewer get even more invested in this story, especially during the movie's climax. With a run-time of only about an hour and twenty minutes, there was definitely time to do so. Fortunately, the little screen-time that their childhood friendship did get was effective, so this only ended up being a very minor issue for me.

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Pro: Chief (+4pts)

As a kid, I remember not liking this character, but that was because he was an effective antagonist. I feared him catching Tod and Copper together when they were young, and I feared him catching Tod once Tod was an adult fox. What I find interesting about this character while watching this movie as an adult, was that he really was not an antagonist. Sure, he was technically an antagonist in the sense that he was a threat to Tod, the main character, but he was really just doing his job loyally, that job just was not in Tod's best interests. Chief lived his life as a hunting dog, so it made sense for him to want to chase Tod, a fox with whom he had no personal connection with, off of his land. As an adult, it was also clear to me that Chief cared about Copper, and he looked after the young hound throughout the movie. Chief was effective as an antagonist to any child viewers, but as an adult, I found this character a lot more compelling and my opinions of him were a lot more complex.

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Con: Widow’s Decision (-2pts)

This was a really minor issue, but I thought the widow made an unjustified 180 degree flip, in terms of her defense of Tod. I get her decision, but I thought the filmmakers did a poor job of justifying it. They could have just had her realize that Tod was now an adult fox, meaning her job was complete. Instead, they forced this whole dramatic moment that felt like it came out of nowhere.

The widow went from aggressively and unconditionally defending Tod, to all of a sudden having a complete change of heart. Again, I get her decision, I just thought the filmmakers did a poor job of getting her there. At the end of the day, this was just a kid's movie, so ripping into the flaws in its plot is a little pointless. Still, this was a very minor issue, so it did not impact my enjoyment of the movie. I was still able to connect with the moment dramatically, and it was necessary to move Tod's story forward. I just thought the filmmakers could have done a better job justifying the widow's decision.

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Pro: The Animals (+5pts)

Whether it was the birds and caterpillar around the farm, or the various animals that lived in the wildlife reservation, the animals in this movie were fun. The two birds and their mission to get the caterpillar provided a few entertaining scenes, then the filmmakers switched it up by introducing the group of animals that lived in the wildlife reservation, and seeing Tod trying to integrate with them provided a few entertaining scenes as well. Then there was the motherly Big Mama who looked over them all. The movie was about Tod and Copper, but the rest of the animals made for an entertaining group of supportive characters.

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Con: Amos (-1pts)

I was fine with the decision that Amos, the hunter, made at the end of the movie, but I thought he came to that decision a little too suddenly. The filmmakers clearly wanted to wait until the last minute for him to make this decision, because they wanted to force more suspense and drama into the climax, but I felt like Amos should either not have made that decision at all, or he should have made it in a more natural and less abrupt way. Fortunately, this was a very minor issue, and it was really just me nitpicking, trying to find a third issue that I had with this movie. At the end of the day, it had almost no impact on the story, but it was a moment that always struck me as a little odd.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (87pts)

Growing up, I went through quite the phase when The Fox and the Hound was my favorite movie. It was then fitting that this was the first movie that I watched on Disney+. I liked this movie a lot while growing up, but it does have a few minor plot issues. The widow's decision seemed to come out of nowhere, Amos' decision defied logic in order to force more drama and suspense into the story, and the length of Tod and Copper's childhood friendship felt a little too short to justify this whole story. I think the story could have benefited from spending more time fleshing these things out, but the story was still effective, nonetheless.

I really liked Tod and Copper's story. I liked the forbidden friendship between the two main characters, and I liked that it was basically Romeo and Juliet, except with friends instead of lovers. I also thought the supporting animal characters were entertaining, and watching this story as an adult gave me a new appreciation toward the older dog, Chief. Was this movie perfect? No, but I liked it a lot when I was a kid, and now it takes me back to my own childhood. It had a decent story about friendship, time, and growing up, and it had a fun group of characters to go along with it all.

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