The story concerns an orphaned fox named Todd that's adopted by an old widow. Meanwhile next door, her hunter neighbor adopts a bloodhound puppy named Copper. The two meet one day and hit it off pretty well. They play and pal around together despite warnings from an owl named Big Mama (voiced by Pearl Bailey) and everyone else that the two are going to be the worst of enemies in the future. Sure enough, Copper goes away on a hunting trip for a while and comes back a mostly mature hunting dog. Now adults, Todd tries to talk with him but finds that their friendship can't go back to the way it was before and ends up being chased by Copper's lifelong friend Chief. Chief gets seriously injured and Copper vows revenge against his fox friend. Then the widow decides she can't keep Todd anymore and decides to release him into the wild. Everything seems to go really bad until he meets up with a vixen named Vixie (original) and seem to hit it off well. The hunter and Copper however come to his part of the forest for revenge and tensions rise as old friends turn enemies. That is until Todd saves Copper and the hunter from a bear that's not only a really intense climax, but the two walk off with their friendship stronger than before.
Considering that we're still in the dark age of Disney, this is sort of a beacon of light. This is a good premise and the Disney artists execute it very well. This film reminds me a lot of Bambi, where it knows how to mix cute but not too schmaltzy with legitimate drama. Its nowhere near the caliber of the former, but it does come close. Especially the bear scene.
There are a few things that keep me from loving it though. There's these two side characters that have their own story arc about trying to catch a caterpillar to eat. To be honest, it's not that annoying but it's not necessary either. It adds nothing to the story. The songs aren't that good or necessary either. The only one I like, let alone remember, is Best of Friends.
I guess it could have been a little bit tougher too. Like the scene when Chief gets hit by the train and live through it with a busted leg. Then Copper vows vengeance against Todd. Think about it like this: that moment would have been a lot more powerful if instead of breaking his leg, he died? I don't mean to sound like a sadistic bastard, but wouldn't that have been a better motivation for revenge instead of, "You broke my friend's leg! I'll kill you!" The scene's pretty strong, but I just think it could have been more powerful.
Despite a few nitpicks, this is still one of Disney's strongest movies. As it is, The Fox and the Hound is probably the one of the better Disney flicks I've seen so far for these reviews. It actually comes close to being as good as something like Bambi. If you haven't seen it yet, go to your local video store and give it a rent. You won't regret it. It's a lot better than what I have to watch next...
And now ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bobby Darin!