Tod, a fox, and Copper, a hound, become buddies in childhood until Copper is trained as a hunting dog, which obviously changes the dynamic of the relationship.The Fox and the Hound was Disney's first outing with a pack of new animators (among them John Musker and Ron Clements, the future directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, as well as an uncredited schlepper named Tim Burton), and it's livelier than the Disney output of the '70s, which isn't saying much. Adapted from a book by Daniel P. Mannix, the movie has great potential seldom realized; given the material's inherent suspense and pathos (can Tod and Copper overcome their instincts and go back to being friends?), this is a largely unfeeling film.
Whenever things threaten to get complex, Pearl Bailey comes on as the wise owl Big Mama, who clucks over Tod's impetuous behavior and sets him up with Vixey (Sandy Duncan). Bailey consistently breaks the movie's dramatic rhythm, but at least she has a personality, which is more than can be said for Mickey Rooney as the adult Copper and Kurt Russell as Tod — since both characters spend a lot of time in the company of humans (where they can't talk), the actors don't get many lines. A year after seeing it, you may not remember which actor did whose voice.Accomplished and sometimes exciting (cf. the stand-off with the bear over the waterfall), but by and large unsatisfying, with a bland score featuring such forgettable songs as 'Best of Friends' (cornball Jim Stafford was among the lyricists). Question: how come Copper doesn't get a mate?