For the first time on Blu-ray comes two tales about friendship against all odds.  The Fox and the Hound 30th Anniversary Edition and The Fox and the Hound 2 have arrived on Disney Blu-ray combo packs.

I’m posting both reviews here, so click past the break to read on!

The Fox and the Hound

Originally released in 1981, The Fox and the Hound marked a change in the Disney Animation Studios.  The last of Walt’s “Nine Old Men” had done a lot of the initial development on the film, but it marked the “passing of the torch” to a new generation of Disney animators.  The opening title sequence is still in the style of some of the older Disney classics (like Alice in Wonderland or Lady and the Tramp) where all the film’s credits appear during the into, instead of as end-credits after the movie.  Unlike some of the older Disney classics, this one is widescreen with no black bars, either on the sides or at the top and bottom of the screen.

The Fox and the Hound is a story of true friendship against all odds.  Two natural enemies, Tod and Copper, encounter each other one day and head off to play.  They had a fun afternoon of hide and seek and swimming until Copper gets called back by his master, Amos Slade.  Shortly thereafter, Slade takes His other dog (Chief) and Copper off to his cabin for the winder so he can hunt and teach Copper how to be a good tracking and hunting dog.  Meanwhile, Tod spends the winter in the home of the Widow Tweed, who took him in after a hunter (most likely, Slade) took the life of his mother.

Copper learns to track and hunt and Tod is cooped up indoors for the winter until Slade returns in the Spring.  The two see each other again shortly after this but soon come to the realization that they are now enemies.  Ol’ Chief wakes up while the two are talking and a chase ensues.  Ultimately, Tod gets away, but Ol’ Chief gets injured by a train and from that point on Slade and Copper have it out for Tod.  Over time, the Widow Tweed decides it’s ultimately safer for Tod if she drops him off at the game preserve.  After a very bad first night there, Tod meets Vixey (a female Fox) and a bond forms between the two.  Slade ends up taking Copper out to the game preserve (despite the no hunting signs) and there he tracks and tries to kill Tod.  Tod manages to escape, but not before a deadly encounter with Copper and an even more near-fatal confrontation with a black bear.  The bear almost claims the life of Copper but Tod saves him by going after the bear himself.  At this point, Copper considers himself and Tod even and our story comes to a close shortly thereafter.

The remastering to Hi-def looks great and I was very pleased (as I mentioned before) that this filled the entire screen.  It’s hard to believe that this was Disney’s 24th animated feature (We just hit 50 with last year’s “Tangled).

The Fox and the Hound 2

This movie is neither a sequel nor is it a prequel.  For lack of a better term, it’s a “midquel.”  The story takes place between the beginning and end of the original Fox and the Hound movie.  Taking us back to when Tod and Copper were still both pups, we get to see more of the friendship that formed in their younger days.  From cricket chasing, to an adventure at the fair, these two are still the best of friends when our story begins.

Tod and Copper’s friendship becomes divided when Copper ends up a part of a group of musical dogs at the fair called the Singin’ Strays.  Copper’s just happy to feel like he’s found something he’s finally good at.  Unfortunately, he gets caught up in group leader Cash’s desire for fame when Tod is left standing in the sidelines.  Dixie, who was ousted from the Singin’ Strays in favor of Copper, sees the division in the duo’s friendship and helps Copper win Tod’s friendship back so that she might rejoin the group after he’s gone.

Celebrity voices include Patrick Swayze, Reba McEntire and Vicki Lawrence.

Unfortunately, I can’t say a lot of positive things about this movie other than the animation put forth by DisneyToon Studios being incredible.  The animation is distinctly different from that of the first film and has a more “polished” look to it.  Of course, 25 years later, animation techniques and technology have advanced greatly and it shows.

In my opinion, the story is weak, and far from being very believable that this could have possibly occurred within the story of the first movie.  Kids won’t see that, but grown-ups easily will.  I don’t think that this film was ever necessarily begging to be made and is, most likely, why Disney’s Chief Creative Officer, John Lasseter, put a stop to direct-to-video sequels back in 2007.  (Editor’s note: THANK YOU JOHN LASSETER!!!)

Bonus Features:

Blu-ray Disc:

  • Unlikely Friends: A fun and fascinating Collection of Unlikely Friendships in the Animal Kingdom (ALL-NEW) — Friendships know no boundaries. They can occur across country lines, be shared among young and old and even develop between different species!

The Fox and the Hound:

  • “Best of Friends” Sing-A-Long – Viewers are invited to sing along with Pearl Bailey on this Walt Disney Classic Song.
  • Passing the Baton: Making of The Fox and the Hound – This feature allows fans to take a deeper look at this little bit of Disney history as legendary animators hand over the reins to a new generation.

The Fox and the Hound 2:

  • “You Know I Will” Music Video – High School Musical Star Lucas Grabeel sings this end-credit song.
  • The Making of the Music – Music is the center stage in The Fox and the Hound 2. As such, this feature showcases how the songs in the film were created with Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood and some of the hottest performers in Nashville. Viewers will further discover how animation and music work together to further enhance a classic story.