Make Sure You've Read: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Dark Era (1981-1988) Introduction
The Fox and the Hound was released in one of the most troubled times in Disney history. The 'Nine Old Men' retired and a new guard of animators (many of whom have since become legends in their own right) took charge of the studio, but that change didn't come easily. Don Bluth, one of the animators, frustrated with the lack of ambition and the way the studio was managed, quit and took a large number of the animation staff with him to form his own studio, which became Disney's main competitor during the decade. As a result, The Fox and the Hound was delayed, and, after spending more than five years in production, was released in 1981 without much fanfare. Since then, it hasn't become an undisputed classic but also hasn't been completely forgotten. The film is in the middle of the canon, neither revered nor hated, and it's likely it will stay that way. The story of Tod (a fox) and Copper (a hound), who became friends when they were supposed to be enemies, has some issues - mainly in the supporting characters, and a pointless side-story involving two birds and a caterpillar - but the emotional core of the central story is very well handled. Also, while the animation is not spectacular, some scenes are very powerful (including the Bear Fight, showcasing early work from the legendary animator Glen Keane) and will leave you satisfied. Like some of the films from the previous decade, The Fox and the Hound may not be a masterpiece, but it still has enough emotional depth to charm viewers of all ages. Rating: 3.5/5.
Next Week: Animated Classic #25 Review: The Black Cauldron (1985)