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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animal tale develops into a thoughtful examination of friendship and includes some mature themes, especially loss. The movie opens with the (off-screen) shooting death of the fox's mother and he is later abandoned by his human caretaker in a forest to try to keep him safe. There's lots of hunting imagery -- snapping leg traps, pelts -- and a very trigger-happy character named Amos who, after awhile is so bent on catching the fox that he breaks into an animal preserve and tries traps and fire to catch him. The most intense scene involves a ferocious bear chase and a jump from a cliff. Families looking for something for younger viewers with the same cute characters and less violence should try The Fox and the Hound 2.
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What's the story?
In Disney's 24th full-length animated movie, THE FOX AND THE HOUND, two best friends don't realize they are supposed to be enemies. A lonely widow (Jeanette Nolan) adopts an orphaned fox cub named Tod (voiced by Keith Coogan), who soon befriends Copper (Corey Feldman), a hound puppy who lives next door with Amos (Jack Albertson), a mean hunter. They become inseparable friends, but Amos keeps trying to catch Tod. Amos takes Copper and his other hunting dog, Chief (Pat Buttram), away for the winter, and Copper returns as a full-fledged hunting dog. Later, Amos' drive to kill Tod so worries the widow that she drives him to the animal preserve where she thinks he'll be safe. But Amos won't be thwarted that easily.
Is it any good?
While the movie isn't quite in the same category as some of the studio's vintage classics, it's an entertaining, touching, and vibrantly animated tale that the whole family is sure to enjoy. The animation features a blend of old-fashioned, hand-drawn imagery with dynamic, colorful action. The excellent voice cast includes Kurt Russell as the grown Copper, Mickey Rooney as the grown Tod, Paul Winchell (the longtime voice of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh), Corey Feldman as the young Copper, and Pearl Bailey as a motherly owl.
Although the plot deals with the serious subjects of maturity and loss of innocence, there's also plenty of humor. However, the climactic fight with the bear is pretty realistic, and may be a little too intense for younger kids. The bittersweet finale, where the fox and the hound smile at each other, then go their separate ways, knowing they can never really be friends anymore, is particularly poignant and will bring a tear to the eye of anyone who has grown up and lost a friend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tod and Copper's friendship. Why was it hard for them to stay friends? How did their friendship when they were young help them when they grew up? Have you ever grown apart from a friend?
When the Widow Tweed drives Tod to the animal preserve she sings, "from our sadness, happiness grew," recalling when she found him orphaned. How does the same thing happen to Tod in the animal preserve?
A sequel was made 25 years later that shows Tod and Copper as kids again who never have to face tough choices as they grow up. Which story do you like better? Which one is more meaningful?
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