I've been trolling around the web this morning, checking out all of the reviews that have been posted to date for "The Fox & The Hound 2." And the general consensus seems to be that this "midquel" to Walt Disney Productions' 1981 release, "The Fox & The Hound," is ... Well ... a dog.
Which -- to me, anyway -- seems kind of unfair.
Copyright 2006 Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Okay. I'll grant you that this Jim Kammerud film has a very different style & tone than the first film. The original "Fox & the Hound" was basically this low-key animated feature that explored the nature of friendship. Whereas "The Fox & The Hound 2" ... It's more of a smart-ass show business-based tale. Where Little Copper -- who can't ever seem to do anything well enough to please his grouchy old owner, Amos Slade -- is tempted to leave the farm & run off with an all-dog musical group, "The Singing Strays."
But to just dismiss this new home premiere outright by calling it "yet another unnecessary sequel" ... That doesn't seem fair to the many talented folks who worked on "The Fox & The Hound 2." I mean, if one were to just sit & actually watch this movie (Rather than automatically sit in judgment), you couldn't help but notice how well animated this DisneyToon Studios production is.
Which is understandable. Given that -- if you were to burrow deep down into the credits -- you'll find that master animator Eric Goldberg actually worked on "The Fox & The Hound 2." Working with his talented wife, Sue, and their "Animation in the Basement" operation, these two contributed some memorable footage to this traditionally animated film.
And then there's the alleged historical significance of this particular home premiere. If the current rumors coming off of the Disney lot actually prove to be true, "The Fox & The Hound 2" should be the last sequel / prequel / midquel that DisneyToon Studios will ever produce. Sort of.
To explain: While DTS is reportedly getting out of the sequel business, several already-in-production projects that support previously existing Disney franchises (I.E. Disney Princesses, Disney Fairies, Mickey Mouse & Winnie the Pooh) are still going forward. Which is why we'll still see "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time" & "The Tinkerbell Movie: The Ring of Belief" in 2007 & "The Little Mermaid III" in 2008.
As to what this all means to Sharon Morrill, the head of DisneyToon Studios, and the rest of Sharon's charges who are currently holed up in the Frank Wells building ... Who can say? Sure, the movies that Morrill & Co. made over the past 12 years have added hundreds of millions of dollars to the Disney Company's bottom line. But at the same time -- by flooding the market with these "brand extenders" -- some have argued that the Mouse accidentally undercut the value of its own traditional animation operation. Which led to that unit actually being shuttered back in 2003.
And given that Ed Catmull & John Lasseter, the new ubermeisters, are reportedly this*close to officially reviving the studio's traditional animation unit ... Well, it just doesn't make sense that DisneyToon Studios would still be allowed to produce home premieres that could then be seen as competition (sort of) for these new traditionally animated productions like "Enchanted" and "The Frog Princess."
Which brings us back to "The Fox & The Hound 2." Which -- in a way -- is the end of the line. At least for this sort of film from the Mouse Factory.
And -- if that's really the case ... Well, I guess that we can at least say DisneyToon Studios' home premiere business went out on top. For "The Fox & The Hound 2" is certainly a good looking movie. And it features animation that rivals the quality of the work that WDFA was turning out back in the mid-1980s (circa "Oliver & Company").
Okay. So the screenplay that Rich Burns & Roger S.H. Schulman created for this midquel is loaded with anachronisms. I mean, if Amos Slade is supposed to be this backwoodsman from the 1930s, then why is he suddenly spouting ESPN-friendly terms like "three-peat" ? And since when is kindly old Widow Tweed channeling for Moe Howard ?
And what's the deal with "The Singing Strays," anyway? At the end of this movie, these dogs are shown performing on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. And then Widow Tweed is shown shaking her booty as the Strays' new hit song is played on the radio ... Does that mean that these canine quintet can now actually sing? Or do they (as we were clearly shown in the state fair sequence of this home premiere) just howl?
It's probably not good to ask too many probing questions about an animated feature like this. Which is -- after all -- just a cartoon. Which is why I should probably try & overlook this film's faults and -- instead -- stress all of "The Fox & The Hound 2" 's positives. Like the great voice work that Reba McEntire, Patrick Swayze and Vicki Lawrence all do for this home premiere. And the several spritely tunes that Trisha Yearwood, Little Big Town and Lucas Grabeel have contributed to this movie's soundtrack.
Beyond that ... I guess it's now time to call in the dogs and see if the Walt Disney Company actually does put this sequel studio to sleep. Or -- now that DisneyToon Studios has completed its work on "The Fox & The Hound 2" -- whether Sharon Morrill is able to teach this old dog of a unit some new tricks.
Although most of these are not that good (I personally have not seen any of them), they have, in the words of Jim "...have added hundreds of millions of dollars to the Disney Company's bottom line."
Now the significance of that, is that Disney can't spend money on new (and better)attractions, a revival of traditional animation, etc if it doesn't have any money.
I'm not saying that they should just churn out junk, BUT let's not forgot that Disney is a BUSINESS that needs to make money.
People complain about the Disney Princess line, but it brings in a BILLION dollars every year. What could the Imagineers do at DCA or AK or Epcot or MGM with a billion dollars??
From what I've seen of this thing on TV, the animation on F&H2 actually looks better than the animation in the original. I must say I'm surprised. But the plot sounds suspiciously similar to that horror "The Country Bears". And I did wonder about the dogs "singing". Please don't tell me the animals talk to humans in the film. Yikes!
I love The Fox and the Hound. To me, it's a precious little underrated gem in the Disney mine. It's sad that a sequel comes out to ruin the original.
And no, I'm no DTV hater. I like Atlantis 2, 101 Dalmatians 2 and love Lady and the Tramp 2. Hopefully this one ain't as bad as the reviews make it seem.
Great animation, even in comparision to the originals shouldn't by itself cover up the lack of new story material these sequels offer. After they killed Ursula in The Little Mermaid, we did not need to see a story where her unmentioned sister tries to finish the job. When Cinderella was married, we did not need to see what happens after "happily ever after", because then it's not really "happily ever after", is it? And I think we're all done with the endless sequels and spin-offs of Lilo & Stitch.
It's better they close this illegitimate arm of the Disney studio, as it's very purpose of making sequels/prequels/midquels is really another remnant of the beaurocratic management from not-too-long ago, which seemed to care more about milking lucrative products dry than polishing an original production. (Anyone still remember why Fraidy Cat got cancelled?)
There was a time Walt assigned some of his best and brightest to work on quickly cranking junk out at a much lower quality than the public had come to expect of the Disney studios. The main difference is - that was during WWII, and the studio's very survival depended on the thin profit margins from these rushed projects.
Today the Disney megacongomorate inc will survive just fine without Peter Pan 4 - Mr Smee Lends a Hand. The sequals are not needed to keep the company solvent. The argument that they have added millions to the bottom line, doesn't investigate how many millions are lost since the current general perception is Disney videos = kiddy junk. The argument also underlies the unspoken mission statement from the mid 80's onward - we don't need to bother shooting for excellence anymore. Mediocre with a Disney banner is good enough.
"The company can't spend money on attractions it doesn't have, and just think what the imagineers could do with a billion dollars."
OK, I've thought about it, and I don't see those bang-up rides. They've had the princess/pooh/stitch billion dollars for quite a few years. Everytime someone suggests a ride or an improvement, the lightning response - "We don't have the money for that." The few rides actually constructed have been financed by selling plush for $25, jacking the admission prices twice a year, and not paying the employees squat. Since the sixties, whenever things are bad it has usually been money coming in from the parks that has propped up the rest of the company.
If the money made was actually put back into the business - whether it's animation, theme parks, tv shows - instead of executive salaries, bonuses, and perks - then I'd go along with it. Until then, the Disney Co needs an Iaccoca type that will work for $1 a year and make quality job one. I'll be glad to volunteer, as long as it's a Disney Dollar.
Great animation, bad story, but still.. Fox 2 ain't no beast of a movie. Still, closing DisneyToon seems the right thing to do. You are correct that they flooded the whole market with too much animated features. All the animation of these seq/prequels aren't so bad, but the stories are. Because they try to follow the story of the first movie, and since they are not written by the same writers the whole point of the first story gets lost and driven to madness. A shame Disney now has this whole bad seq/prequels mark in his history, but looking into the future, some good choices were made to ensure the future of traditional animation.
Basically two things at work--
1) Why, the next poster will ask, "Fox & the Hound 2"?--Which is the same answer to why "Aristocats II" and "Dumbo 2", which got the John Lasseter axe: Namely, why movies from the bottom of the catalog that have almost zero identification with pre-schoolers, but NEED name recognition with parents if they're going to sell in Disney-video numbers?...Which's also the answer to why "Bambi II". Toon Studios' biggest video market was to be as promotional arm to the Feature Video market, seeing as parents might not remember THE Tod & Copper, but would blindly buy any -new- sequel opening week at Target. At this rate, "Robin Hood" could've had a sequel before the 2-disk came out.
2) Why "the Singing Strays"?--Well, Toon Studios don't remember the old movie either (can you blame them?) And Toon Studios rule, when in doubt...recycle an already-used Disney plot. Like "Country Bears: the Movie". Same story, different (and more strategicallly marketable) characters.
...More important than Lasseter getting rid of the sequels, he got rid of the sequels that weren't made with the audience in mind. There are technically a few of those, but think we can say F&H2 wasn't one of them.
The biggest problem with these movies is that they are produced with the idiotic business philosophies that all animation studios have adopted in this day in age. This whole "parents will buy any piece of crap off the DVD shelves as long as it has some cute cartoon bunnies on the cover" is rediculously putting down the consumer. Kids know what they want, and there are plenty of talented people out there who can see this and give them what they want, probably at a fraction of the cost of some of the big producitons Disney and the other big name studios come out with.
If the studios actually wanted to make money, maybe they would let the talent that actually make the cartoons get the ideas for the stuff they make?
>> DerekJ said:
>>why movies from the bottom of the catalog that have almost zero identification with pre-schoolers
Well, maybe you need to spend more time with preschoolers! My dd begged for Fox & The Hound 2 for Christmas, and just watched Return to Never Land last weekend. With the Disney Channel showing old movies, my dd, age 5, has Fox & The Hound and Robin Hood among her favorites. Most of the "classics"...she gets bored and stops watching. I don't think she's ever seen Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White from beginning to end, and she's a big princess products fan. We oldies may think of something as "junk"...but the kids have a totally different opinion of their own.
So don't underestimate the preschooler market--they drive a lot of spending, for DVD's and theme parks!
Sue in TX
Okay, so YOUR kids know the first movie...Most don't. Trust me. (My niecephews, btw, are hooked on "Treasure Planet" DVD of their own accord, and I actually spent ten minutes last week -explaining- to their mom why other people thought the movie hadn't been a hit.)
Point is, now that Disney doesn't have to sequelize their old fifty-year "Jungle Book" and "Peter Pan" films anymore for copyright extension, they found they could do "reverse serializing": Pump up high pressure for parents to rent/buy Chapter 2 of a story they don't know, and imply "Tune in LAST week (ie., rent/buy the old version they probably wouldn't have) to find out what happens in the beginning!" For example, you might not buy "Black Cauldron" if they were giving it away with free money, but admit it, you'd be curious enough to plunk down $19.99 for "Black Cauldron II: Taran's New Adventure" for your kids sight-unseen, if it was sales-pumped at Target and they'd liked the last sequel so much. And guess what happens once they see it...Two sales for the price of one.
...At least, while they were still -making- the promotional bottom-of-the-catalogue cheapquels, that is. Now that Lassie's in charge, however, expect no disk-promotional "Cauldron" continuations forthcoming, 2-disk sales or no 2-disk sales.
I always buy the sequels. I haven't watched some of the newer ones yet, but I will eventually. I've been entertained by them all. When I first saw some publicity of the film, I couldn't understand where in the first film the new film would take place (before the hunting trip? or was there more than one hunting trip?).
I don't see "Enchanted" as being a "traditionally animated production"...it has traditional animation, and that's probably where you were going with that, but it's not going to be on the equivalent of the animated classics list.
"And it features animation that rivals the quality of the work that WDFA was turning out back in the mid-1980s"
Just looking at the pictures and the TV ad, I have to disagree with that. Animation now looks so different from animation back then. It's "cleaner", I'm sure thanks to computers. But, I don't think that it looks bad by any means- I think it still looks nice.
Semaj86 said: "When Cinderella was married, we did not need to see what happens after "happily ever after", because then it's not really "happily ever after", is it?"
I'm actually more excited for "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time" than I have been for all the other sequels put together. I haven't seen the cruise ship Cinderella show, but I've read that it has a similiar plot. I can't wait for that film to come out in the spring. And, I actually enjoy "Cinderella II"- not nearly as much as the original, but the story about the baker gets me every time...
Semaj86 said: "Anyone still remember why Fraidy Cat got cancelled?"
No, I don't remember, but I remember that that looked like a great movie.
curmudgeon said: "Peter Pan 4 - Mr Smee Lends a Hand"
Mr. Smee is underrated...he should get a movie where he's the lead...
curmudgeon said: "not paying the employees squat"
That's true, but it's also common knowledge that, if you work at a Disney theme park, you're not working for the money, you're working for the love of Disney. I know, it sounds like a crock, but that's what I hear. I used to work at WDW, and I'm planning on going back when I graduate (but I'll work in a more "educated" role), and I want to move through the company- I love Disney. There are some people (many) that work there that I'm sure do complain about the lack of income, and they're not "shiny happy people" (to quote R.E.M.)...I know that this isn't what the article's about, but I wonder if Disney would give there park CM's a raise...down here in Orlando, what Disney pays is pretty much what everyone pays.
DerekJ said: "Namely, why movies from the bottom of the catalog that have almost zero identification with pre-schoolers, but NEED name recognition with parents if they're going to sell in Disney-video numbers?"
Is that really the case? Are there really that many parents that didn't grow up with these films? I grew up with the Disney classics, and I'm sure going to show my future-kids them and have them know about Disney (with me as their mom, they better know about Disney). I just can't believe that that many people didn't grow up with some of these films...it's mindblowing, if it's the case. I guess, though, that since there weren't VCRs back in the day, that some people couldn't afford to see all the films in the theater...but, you'd think that since the '80s, they would have had time to see them all...?
DerekJ said: "Okay, so YOUR kids know the first movie...Most don't. Trust me."
That's just sad. I can't understand why. Sure, not all parents are obsessed with Disney, but you'd think they'd have already seen the films, or at least purchase them for their own children, especially with the rereleases and all.
DerekJ said: "now that Disney doesn't have to sequelize their old fifty-year "Jungle Book" and "Peter Pan" films anymore for copyright extension"
Is that really why the sequels were made? If so, that's a legit reason.
DerekJ said: " For example, you might not buy "Black Cauldron" if they were giving it away with free money, but admit it, you'd be curious enough to plunk down $19.99 for "Black Cauldron II: Taran's New Adventure" for your kids sight-unseen, if it was sales-pumped at Target and they'd liked the last sequel so much. And guess what happens once they see it...Two sales for the price of one."
I don't understand what you're saying...but by using TBC, it's might make more sense...since the average parent of small children wouldn't buy TBC for their kids, but, knowing DisneyToon, if they made TBC2, it'd be cuddly and cute...so parents would buy that and be interested in the first movie, which they had never heard of, and they'd be shocked when they brought it home. But, what if "Dumbo 2" came out...So, "Dumbo 2" comes out, which parents have pressure to buy, and imply "tune in last week to find out what happens in the beginning". I'm sorry, DerekJ, I don't know what you mean by "last week"...would there be a sticker or a double-ad featuring both films?
Maybe I am in the minority, but I do not use TV/DVD as a babysitting tool and watch with my young toddler, and hopefully I will not back down on that as she gets older. We do not buy barney or elmo toys due to the annoyance factor, and I will not buy a DVD that is insipid kiddie fluff or those that try to be hip and cater to "today's" kids. There is too much good stuff out there to choose from. Obviously I want her to enjoy it, but I am not masichistic enough to sit through just any children's DVD. I do not buy Disney sequels, but we adore Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. As a result she just added Mickey to her very limited vocabulary. Bravo Disney for reinvigorating Mickey and the gang with today's kids. Disney should realise that some of us parents of small children do watch with our kids and do not just buy them everything they want. Parents are told to strictly limit TV time for small children so Disney should be striving for quality not quantity to impress the parent's, who last time I checked still pay for this stuff.
Why should we be surprised here at the quality of the animation of F&H2? We all know Disney can animate well, when they choose too. Perhaps the surprise is that they chose to do so on a little mid-quel most considered to be a throw-away even before Lassiter put the royal kabosh on the genre.
The problem here is the problem with most features put out by Disney of recent years, be they traditionally animated or CGI. The story is weak. Plain and simple.
Good old fashioned story telling at Disney has become a lost art. These new stories are weak on substance and formulaic by nature, bolstered with hip, edgy banter and pop references. Its sugar coated fluff, little more.
And the saddest thing is, as you sit through some of these sequels (not all by any means), you can see many are right on the edge of being something more, something better -- but they fail. They fall short and hard of the ideal and leave you (at least this viewer) disappointed.
I'm honestly not sure why Jim is chiding these unnamed reviewers for panning the story and not noting the apparently solid animation. Fact is, unless these are dedicated animation sites, most reviewers and viewers aren't going to notice if the animation is really good. The average kid who this movie is aimed at isn't going to comment "well, the plot was a bit thin, but Todd's lip synch was extremely convincing". Heck, I love animation, but if I'm watching a film for the first time and spending the majority of my viewing thinking about the nice overlapping action on Copper's ears, then I feel the film is generally a flop. Because I'm responding to Copper the series of 12 to 15 drawings per second, not Copper the character. I do appreciate that the film appear to be drawn well (though it's saddled with the usual overuse of computer coloring tricks). But without a solid story, only animation fans are going to have any fond memories of the good animation.
blackcauldron85 said:>>"But, what if "Dumbo 2" came out...So, "Dumbo 2" comes out, which parents have pressure to buy, and imply "tune in last week to find out what happens in the beginning". I'm sorry, DerekJ, I don't know what you mean by "last week"...would there be a sticker or a double-ad featuring both films? "<<
Sticker?--No. But, you may recall wondering why we recently got a new 2-disk Dumbo 1: Special Edition, when there was nothing wrong with the first disk: Yes, they thought they'd have a "Dumbo 2" ready to advertise on/with it, in special promotions on the bonus menu. Just like the Bambi II ads all over the Bambi disk. Unfortunately, they'd put out the product, but the more important ad for it was cancelled, and all they were left with was the dumb ol' product that still probably wouldn't sell.
...NOW see hot it works? (Now apply that theory to the cancelled "Aristocats" sequel they had all ready to go, with John Goodman doing the Phil Harris voice, and wonder why they weren't bothering to give Snow White or Pinocchio sequels anymore.)