The Fox and the Hound (2024)

Oh yes. This is happening.

I decided to bump this movie up on my To Watch List....simply because I felt like it. I feel like watching my favorite Disney movie of all time, and damn it, that's exactly what I'm going to do. *nods decisively*


This movie holds a very, very, very dear place in my heart. Obviously.

The Fox and the Hound was not, precisely, amongst the Disneymovies that Lys and I watched the sh*t out of when we were growing up. No...the #1 spot for that was 101 Dalmatians (which remains, to this day, Lys's personal all-time favorite Disney movie), which was trailed a bit by The Lion King, and other popular movies for us included The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, Oliver and Company, Hercules, Mulan, and Aladdin, with a few movies like Pocahontas, Tarzan, Bambi, and Sleeping Beauty making a small pool of movies that we didn't watch as much, but were definitely favored over certain other movies.

So, then, wait, you're probably wondering. If you didn't watch it that much...then why is it your favorite? Hell, even if you did watch it enough times to drive yourparents insane, why the f*ck The Fox and the Hound?!Indeed, a lot of people have found my lovefor this movie to be slightly incomprehensible (but then, this is seeming to be the story of my life, so there's that; I just seem to like things that most other peoplecouldn't bring themselves to care for).

In answer to the first question...I honestly have no idea when this movie became not only my favorite Disney movie, but also my favorite movie period. I really couldn't tell you. Just...one day, someone asked me what my favorite movie was. And me, whenI normally over-analyze everything into nonexistence, and when I usually agonize over deciding things like 'favorites'...for once, the first thing that came to my mind was what came out of my mouth: The Fox and the Hound. And it's stuck there ever since.

Now, to the second question...yeah, I know most people don't like this movie, and I really can understand why. Fox and the Hound is just not your normal Disney faire. It's dark, and it doesn't have a traditional happy ending (or any happy ending at all, as some might argue it), it's not a story about romantic love, there aren't traditional villains,there aren't really any extremely catchy songs that are ridiculously easy to sing along too, especially when you're a kid, like "Under the Sea" or "Hakuna Matata", etc. Hell, some people probably find it boring. I've heard from still others that they can't watch it because it makes them cry (and weirdly enough, I don't have that problem with this movie, which is just plain weird, when you consider my track record with other movies. For f*ck's sake, I full-on cry like a baby every single time at the end of Lilo and Stitch, not to mention the deaths of Mufasa and Bambi's mom, but not this one? I think it's because I just don't have the time to get attached to Tod's mom. And while yeah, a great majority of the movie is sad...I dunno, to me, it's more a bittersweet kind of sad, but I just don't cry, for whatever reason).

So, yeah, I get most other people's dislike for the movie. But all of the above is part of what makes me love it so much. It's because it's so different and unique that it's awesome. And for a very long time, I've firmly believed that it's one of the best Disney movies ever made. So, let's see how this belief holds up on this viewing. (I also won't be taking notes as I watch the movie...because I really don't want to interrupt my experience. XD)

{...an hour and a half later...}

Annnnd I'm back. And I still loooooooove this movie. ^^

This time through, there was one theme in particular that lingered in my mind, now that I was truly paying attention, that I've been able to identify. Essentially, Disney's The Fox and the Hound is a microcosm of life, packed into 83 minutes, and one that surprisingly doesn't feel very rushed at all.

Which, is slightly weird, and then not. If these were human characters, I think I'd bea bit more skeptical, because really, Tod and Copper's childhoodfriendship takes place over three, four days---five at the outside. And then when Copper gets back after being away for a few months, they can barely manage a five minute conversation beforesh*t gets f*cked up. But they're not human, they're animals, and it makes a certain amount of sense that animals understand the passage of time differently; this also ends up tying in to the scene changes, whetherthat was intentional or not. Take, for instance, the scene after Big Mama's "Lack of Education", that shows Chief and Copper's barrels and the weather rushing through autumn into winter.Since animals don't conceive of time the same way humans do, the relatively (for human standards) little amount of time they spend as friendsdoesn't make meheaddesk like certain other relationships would with the same development.

But anyway---microcosm of life. From a meta perspective, this comparison starts right from the very first few secondsof the movie. For almost the first five minutes or so of the openingcredits,it starts with no music, and then slowly builds up to the entrance ofTod's mother, and then (what I think are)the violins get loud and sharp. Basically, you could think of this as life in the womb, floating and drifting around aimlessly (as we're shown the woods in the movie), up until the dramatic labor begins (this is the dog chasing the mother fox and baby Tod all over), up until the final birth (and inversely, the death of Tod's mother). And from there, we get everything about life presented to us: family, friends, being a social outcast and feeling out of place, making an unlikely friend that everyone tries to convince you is wrong, growing up and accepting your responsibilities and the roles that society expects us to take on, dealing with the past colliding with a future that it has no place in, how consequently doing a good deed for one person results in something bad happening to someone else, abandonment and essentially being forced to move out of your house and adapting to new environments, romance, the meaning of love and duty and dealing with the people and neighbors in your life, and in the end, it's about striking your own balance with life.

I think that's really one of the biggest things about this movie that gets me---I feel that it sends the message that life is all about balance and moderation. It gets interesting because, really, there aren't any true villains in The Fox and the Hound. Disney was smart enough not to throw in a superfluos villain like Ratcliffe, because they recognized that the story didn't have a need for it.

Sure, there are antagonists. Amos Slade, the owner of Chief and Copper is probably the biggest one, because he's the hunter, and he KILLS ANIMALS, and personifiesthe largest influence in the gulf that grows in Copper and Tod's friendship, as Amos is always the one shooting at Tod, calling Copper back from playing, tying Copper up, taking Copper away for the winter, is the catalyst for Widow Tweed's abandonment of Tod, and then brings Copper to hunt Tod at the game preserve. But Amos really isn't a bad guy; his obsession to shoot Tod is born out of a determination to protect his chickens from getting eaten (which, in reality,would bea legitimate concern), and then morphs into Amos seeking justice and recompense for Tod getting Chief run over by a train and breaking his leg. He's not really doing it just to be malicious. He's got a temper on him, and he's rather sexist towards Widow Tweed, but when you think about it---dogs are one of the best judges of human character, and Copper almost got himself killed defending Amos from the demon bear. There's definitely shown to be a huge amount of loyalty between Amos and his dogs, and it really goes both ways.

Chief is another fairly large antagonist, but while he's fairly grumpy, it's obvious that he cares about Copper, like a son or a grandson of a sort. And the affection clearly isn't one-sided, because it was Chief getting so hurt that caused Copper to swear vengeance against Tod.

(And yes, I recognize that the 'villain' ends up being that demon bear that I swear is also in Balto, but anyway, I don't consider this bear to be 'evil'...it's just acting like an animal, you know? And bears aren't cute, cuddly little critters, you know. They will attack you, so there you have it. Incidentally, another thing I think this movie does so well is in striking up a balance between the different species of animals' natural behaviors and movements, and then also giving them human expressions and postures as well.)

We don't really get this as much in Widow Tweed, but Amos and Chief are really representative of society, one that is impatient for Copper to grow up and start taking on his responsibilites and roles within it. And yet, this isn't really illustrated as being bad, exactly. Sure, it sucks that Tod and Copper can't really be friends, but Copper is genuinely happy with his life, likes being a hunting dog, wants to learn more about it, and loves both Chief and Amos. And it's really never once mentioned that Copper should be obligated to sacrifice and throw all of that away for the sake of being with Tod. All Copper really does at the end of the movie is that he takes a hold of enough of his own agency to strike a balance in his life. Sure, he's going to be a hunting dog, and accept the role that society's given him, but he's also not going to completely let go of his friendship with Tod, and he's going to do the right thing.

And really, that's what is the most saddening about this movie, is how much Copper especially loves his family (of Amos and Chief), and yet also loves his friend Tod, but he is completely incapable of having them both, and only just manages to have them reconcile a little bit with each other.

This movie is as bittersweet as it is, because that's really what life is like: its mood shifts from sad, tragic, and depressing, to joy and happiness, and then runs the whole gambit of emotions that we'll go through in our lives. Tod's mother dies, but then he gains a family in Widow Tweed, Big Mama, Dinky, and Boomer. Tod gets Copper, loses Copper, gets Copper back, loses him again in their most emotionally painful argument, and then gets him back again, and then the two still part ways, presumably hardly able to see much of each other again. Tod gets abandoned, and then finds love in Vixey. And to mention it again, but Tod and Copper go through some truly terrible moments of fighting before they come to each other's rescue, in spite of everything. And then in the ending, things are happy and fun and neighborly between Amos and Widow Tweed, and Chief and Copper are doing alright, and Tod has Vixey....and yet the two unlikely friends are never going to see each other again. See what I mean? This movie, like life, continues on and jumps back and forth between everything bitter and sweet, and what you're left with is a horribly and wonderfully realistic microcosm of life.

And the ambiguity in this movie is just marvellous, along with its overall message of achieving a balance in your life. Because you're not always going to be able to reconcile all the facets of your life, and everything will not always be hunky-dory, and friends and even best friends will go in and out of your life. And maybe that'll be because you're going five hours away to go to college, or you ended up with a job on the other side of the country. But it's not wrong to want to be a part of your society, to contribute to it, or to genuinely enjoy it. And it's also not wrong to make friends in unlikely places, or to value in that friendship and want to keep it in the face of opposition. What's important is finding that balance for yourself.

And in your heart will be a memory, and there it'll always be. :)

What really sets The Fox and the Hound apart from other Disney movies, is that while it's a platonic, forbidden love story, it ultimately doesn't end with Tod and Copper being 'together', and furthermore, it doesn't make that as being a bad thing---it's just life. Like other Disney movies, this is Tod and Copper's coming-of-age story, but unlike most of them, it doesn't end with Tod and Copper following their own selfish whims around and flipping a middle finger at society; instead, it simply has them growing up, and then learning to accept their places in their society on their own terms. There aren't any villains and monstrous evil guys; there are just regular old people/animals, who may f*ck up and make mistakes and have misunderstandings...but really, what do you expect; after all, no one's perfect. There's just messy, flawed, imperfect people (relatively speaking), who are just trying to live their lives as best they can.

So really, at the end of the day, I honestly don't think of this movie as being tragically sad---at least, not any more sad than life itself is. Which, it may be at times, but it's also full of joy and wonder, even if you can't always share it with the people that you want to.

I suppose that's partly why this movie means so much to me; it truly represents so much about life, and it's done in only 83 minutes, which I consider one hell of an achievement, especially as I feel that there's really nothing to add to it, and it manages to hit every note, except for maybe Tod and Vixey have babies, but eh, I don't need to see that.

(You can note this as me basically explaining why its sequel BURNS MY SOUL so very much...wtf wtf wtf no no no no no, please erase yourself from existence, and thanks for pretty much missing the entire point of this first movie. D: *headdesk*)

If, for some ungodly reason, you haven't seen this movie, or even if you just haven't rewatched it in forever, I can't recommend it more highly. The Fox and the Hound may not be as all-around EPIC as, for instance, The Lion King, and may not be as easily watchable for little kids like 101 Dalmatians or The Little Mermaid, but I truly do think that it's one of Disney's more forgotten best-made movies, and I think that an adult audience can be especially appreciative of it.

Let me close out with more of my favorite lines from the movie:

"Darling, forever is a long, long time. And time has a way of changing things." -Big Mama


"And we'll always be friends forever, won't we?" "Yeah, forever."

Tags: disney movie reviews, the fox and the hound

The Fox and the Hound (2024)

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