The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray and DVD is another fine addition for any family’s Disney collection. The original movie has long been a favorite with fans, many of whom have been waiting patiently for a proper high-definition release to one of Disney’s most memorable “best friend” adventures. While this collection of the two movies is good, a few issues with the original’s restoration (or lack thereof) and presentation of many of the special features definitely hold it back from being the definitive release of the films.
The original 1981 The Fox and the Hound centers on an orphaned baby fox named Tod, and a hound pup named Copper that become instant friends. As the two grow older, their lives begin to split them apart when Copper is trained to hunt down foxes for his hunter/master. What follows afterwards, including Tod finding love and the two being confronted by a huge, angry bear, will really put their friendship to the test.
Then comes the 2006 ‘midquel’ (so-named as the story takes place between the beginning and end of the first movie) that came out around the time when Disney was making uninspired direct-to-video sequels to everything in their library. The main theme focuses mainly on musical elements, which sees Copper becoming part of a singing dog quartet that has dreams of making it to the Grand Old Opry. Tod barely shows up much in this one, as it centers around Copper trying to keep the leader of the dogs named Cash (voiced by Patrick Swayze), and their leading lady dog Dixie (voiced by Reba McEntire) together, and the band from falling apart.
Disney did a pretty good job with the transfers of both movies, especially since both have been packed onto a single Blu-ray disc. The video looks good on the original film, but still lacks that fine Disney polish we’ve seen from more recent releases, almost as though they didn’t touch it up as well as they could have. Like many of Disney’s animated features from that era, the colors are noticeably darker and more subdued than what came before and afterwards, and the stylistic shift on the follow-up is almost startling. The second film looks a lot better, naturally, as it was released only a few years ago, with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound shining through on both films nicely.
Now on to the flaws. The main one being that while the Blu-ray disc contains both films, only one of the scant few bonus features are on it, with the others being parceled onto the two separate DVD’s that also contain the films. Sadly, this has become common practice on these hybrid releases, and I’m pretty sure there was plenty of space left to spare to put all of the features on the Blu-ray. So you only get one hi-def special feature on the Blu-ray, while the others are standard-def on the DVD’s. While most people won’t care, I thought it was pretty silly to scatter the special features like that, and to only have one in high-definition.
The feature included on the Blu-ray is the seven-minute “Unlikely Friends”, which offers a look at animals in the real life animal kingdom and from the Disney animated universe that shows that friendship can happen to even the most opposite of species. The DVD of The Fox and the Hound includes a sing-a-long of the song “Best of Friends”, and the “Passing the Baton” feature, which showcases the younger generation of Disney animators being trained by three of Disney’s legendary animation masters. The DVD of The Fox and the Hound II features the music video to “You Know I Will”, and a “The Making of the Music” featurette that shows viewers Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood along with the songwriters writing and recording their vocals for the movie.
The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two 30th Anniversary Edition is a decent addition to any family’s library of Disney films, but with a little more care and polish it could’ve been even better. While most probably won’t worry about the special features being scattered across several discs, or the so-so effort put into cleaning up the original film for its high-definition debut, video and animation enthusiasts will agree that a bit more love would have gone a long way. Still, you do get one of Disney’s best buddy adventures (and its unnecessary sequel) on a disc format that isn’t likely to fade after a few marathon sessions. In the end, it stills makes for some fine family viewing that most are sure to treasure and enjoy for quite some time.
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