My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching it is that it had potential. The first half was well done (with some filler), but things fall apart in the second half. The music is not that memorable and does not have a recurring theme to it, the animation is a bit better than The Rescuers, but it needs a lot of improvement, and you can tell that some mess was happening during production.
Production started in 1977 (around the time The Rescuers was released. Take notice that around the Dark Era, only 1 film was in production at a time), and the Nine Old Men, Wolfgang Reitherman, and the crew from when WDAS was started worked on the film in the beginning of development (and this would be the last film MANY of them would work on before death or retuirement). The new generations (John Lasetter, Ron Clements, Glen Keane, John Musker, etc) would eventually take over, with fall outs and arguments about the film caused many of the older generation to leave.
Don Bluth took about 17% of the animators with him, as they claimed that Disney was losing their creativity. Apparently, the newer generation wanted to sugar coat the film and not have Chief die (like Balloo in Jungle Book and Trusty in Lady and the Tramp).
We start the film off with a mother fox running from a dog, with her kid Todd (Keith Mitchell and Mickey Rooney) in her mouth. The chase is getting hectic, and she hides Todd behind a fence, as she runs off to only be shot. I have a theory that the killer was Amos Slade (Jack Albertson), and the dog chasing her was Chief (Pat Buttram). So Big Mama (Pearl Bailey) takes him to Willow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan).
Todd is a bit careless, too much so for my liking. He goes outside for us to suffer filler with 2 birds trying to eat a caterpillar, and this joke is ongoing for the entire film, and it only causes more filler, and is barely funny.
Anyways, we are introduced to Chief and Copper (Corey Feldman and Kurt Russell), who smells something intriguing to him, so he follows the smell, which leads him to Todd. They soon started playing hide and go seek, and bonded quickly.
Big Mama sings We’re the Best of Friends as Todd calls Copper over to play in the lake. Slade calls for Copper, as he is annoyed with the dog wandering off. The pair promise to be BFFL (Best Friends For Life), and to meet tomorrow. Tomorrow comes, and Copper is tied to his barrel. Todd thinks it is a smart idea to play beside a huge dog, and especially when Copper says he can’t He is even stupid enough to go into Chef’s barrel to touch him.
So Slade sees him on his property, causing him to shoot all over the place. Todd hops into Willow Tweed’s truck, which causes Slade to shoot it up. Tweed ain’t about that life, so she gets out of her car, yells at him, and shoots his car with his own gun. That is a boss. Slade promises that he will kill Todd the next time he lays eyes on him, and insults her by calling her a female -_-. This pathetic insult is used more than once by more than one character in this film.
So Copper leaves for the Winter to be trained to be a dog hunter, with Big Mama singing a bad song about education and elimination, with her telling him that their friendship won’t last because Copper is obedient, while Todd is not. Copper quickly becomes the better dog hunter, and gets to ride back to town in the spring with Amos Slade.
He is spotted on his property, and Slade and Chief chases Todd down the forest to kill him. Copper tries to save Todd as much as he can during all of this. Todd runs on a train track, and Chief follows him, to only get hit by a train, falls down a 60 feet distance, hits a rock, and is emotionless. Copper finds him, and thinks he is dead, so he is hellbent on killing Todd. This pat makes sense…….for now.
Amos Slade barges in Willow Tweed’s house, preparing to shoot him right there, but Willow Tweed shuts that down, and tells him to fuck off. He yells that Todd cannot hide in the home forever, when she realizes that he cannot stay there anymore, and needs to go to the forest. As she drops him in the forest, he is about to burst into tears, and we hear her thoughts, with sad music playing in the background. It is very bittersweet.
Todd is alone, and traumatized from all that happened, and ends up living with a suspiciously gay animal. While this is happening……
So Big Mama finds the satellite love interest in the form of Vixey (Sandy Duncan) so foxes won’t get extinct, and she hits it off with Todd at first, but then she laughs at him at his failed attempt to fish. He insults her by calling her a female. This is extremely annoying, and not even the older films do this, and disses genders like this. So Vixey tells him off, and Big mama sings a song about Natural affection, causing them to forgive one another without speaking.
So as they take the Bella Notte and Can You Feel the Love route, Slade and Copper set traps to kill Todd. Vixey senses something is off, and tells him to not go through a certain path, which he of course does not listen to, until he sets off a trap. He runs off with Vixey, Copper and Amos chase him around, to only be knocked out by a bear, who ends up attacking Copper.
So Todd runs back to save Copper, only for the bear to attack him, and Copper tries to save him, but Todd and the bear falls down a water the bad guy of course dying and the good guy living. Amos Slade runs to Todd with his sprained ankle, ready to shoot, but Copper steps in, daring him to shoot, with Slade taking him home and leaving Todd.Tweed is tending Slade’s ankle, with the dogs watching it, and the foxes hovering over them in the forest.
The characters are not horrible, but they are not really that memorable.
The animation is an improvement over The Rescuers. The color Xerography is a lot smoother, bolder, and the backgrounds are a lot better and creative, but the movement is a bit problematic. They are a bit stiff, and it makes the issues with the cells extremely noticeable. I hate it when you can see white at the outlines, or when the movements of the animals are not touching the floor.
There is no running theme through this movie. There is some country, some ballad 70’s, and some other weird themes. The songs are not really memorable, and the lyrics are not the strongest. Some of the songs are very weird.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on July 10, 1981, it was a success, which is all I can find out about the financial box office, but the fact that it only made $63,456,988 including it`s 1988 release, it was not a big hit. It received mixed reviews, as many called it familiar, or did not like what this movie was trying to do. Others did not like the overly cuteness of it.
It was re-released once in 1988, but it is not a Disney classic. Many either forget about it, or think it is eh-bad. It is not seen as one of THE worst films in the canon, but it is not one of the better ones. You will barely find merchandise from this film, and it only continued the downward spiral of the studio at that time. It does suffer from the midquel called The Fox and the Hound 2 (being one of the final DisneyToons sequels) released in 2006.
= 26/40 = 65%