21. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

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Directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich & Art Stevens

Remember the Dark Age of the 1980’s mentioned before? The Fox and the Hound kicked it off, but the film itself is not as horrendous as that fact may be. The Fox and the Hound is a coming-of-age story of friendship that tackles the idea of prejudice and social issues. Yes, a movie about animals tackled that concept and they did not mess around either. The film plays out like a typical sweet and sugary treat with young Tod, voiced by Corey Feldman, and young Copper, voiced by Keith Mitchell, bonding together against nature’s way to form a friendship much to the chagrin of their respective owners and Chief, voiced by a very serious Pat Buttram. As the two become older, Tod, now voiced by Mickey Rooney, and Copper, now voiced by Kurt Russell, start to clash after an accident involving Chief. The movie isn’t as lighthearted as it seems. In fact, it’s dark and depressing.

That’s what makes The Fox and the Hound standout among the other films of the 80’s by taking a huge step into being a mature animated film with few moments of hope and light. It’s gritty with a tale of survival with a massive fire, shocking with a violent fight against a bear and intense as emotions between Tod and Copper flare. The staff at Disney made a film that captures the grit of the novel, while still having a happy ending that is actually earned and not given. The Fox and the Hound is a classic of a Dark Age.

Critic’s Quote: “The Fox and the Hound” is one of those relatively rare Disney animated features that contains a useful lesson for its younger audiences. It’s not just cute animals and frightening adventures and a happy ending; it’s also a rather thoughtful meditation on how society determines our behavior.”- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 1, 1981

Signature Moment: After the fight with the bear and the fire, Copper comes to the aide of Tod as Copper’s owner Amos Slade, voiced by Jack Albertson, stares him down with a shotgun.

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