For once I was expecting total disappointment and got better than I ever would have hoped for. Yes, this is a "midquel," but once you've seen the (incredible) first you can sort of imagine where these events might fit in. This has its own climax and all, but the plot fits within the original's parameters. It might not make 100% sense, but to go back and do something like this is pretty tough. It's all right.
So, what's good about The Fox and the Hound 2? Much more than anyone expects. First, the obvious animation. It, and the scenery, are wonderful. Bright, bold, shiny, fresh colors, detailed and true-to-the-first backdrops. Very expressive characters who are just delightful to watch--the way the dogs move is fantastic and well done. Obviously the animation is not perfect; it never is in ANY animated film. There will always be flawed frames. As you would have expected for a Disney sequel, it is inconsistently good--but, ESPECIALLY for a Disney sequel, it remains excellent overall. But for a Disney sequel of all things, this certainly seems top-knotch.
As to the country music, well, even if you're not normally a fan, there is nothing to dislike about the movie's songs. Particularly "Good Doggie, No Bone." (Great song. Like "Streets of Gold," it's sung to a young animal to educate them about something [it's really about herself, and what she's learned the hard way about relationships and being 'at the top.'] And ain't that what life is, too, though? "It's all, `Good doggie,' but no bone!") They're nicely done by stars from the heart of country music, as explained on the DVD bonus feature.
And the story? Surprisingly great too; good dialogue, witty and humorous bits, good character development. None, or very little of, the usual sequel hokiness and cheese I'd anticipated. The story of the county fair and Singin' Strays band is actually very believable, and at least the concept fits into the down-homey, rural environment of the Fox & the Hound setting. There are so many highlights it's hard to remember them all, but the scene near the end, in which the group performs for a jolly talent scout outside a quaint, old-fashioned diner comes to mind for one. The setting just helps to make the story work; that little diner is so cute, and so perfect for the scene.
I'm still dismayed to see sneak peeks for Cinderella 3 and The Little Mermaid 3 on the DVD, but at least this movie gives me hope that somebody still may know what they're doing making these sequels. Then again, this movie was almost tailored directly to me. More than anything I am a sucker for singing and dancing dogs: show me a film centered around that, and you've got me. I like to imagine a world where everyone's a dog and there are musicians along the lines of the Singin' Strays anyway, but even without such a love for this type of thing, you can appreciate the movie. It stands well enough on its own. But I'm saving the best parts for last.
Yes, it's pretty original; far from perfect, of course, but I won't run down all of the weaker points because as with any sequel, there are many. However, they don't drag down the big picture. Tod and Copper are naturally your young and precious main characters, but Chief, Widow Tweed and Amos Slade haven't been left out--or ruined, either. Chief is especially well- animated and a good source of humor (and kinda resembles Tramp.) The one character, though, who in my opinion really makes the movie great--in fact she makes the movie--is Dixie. When I first saw her and Cash on the cover, my impression was: `OMG! It's Dodger and Rita from `Oliver and Company' redone!' Because Cash's bandana HAS to be an homage to Dodger. And Dixie has that same sort of look as Rita, perhaps somewhat more polished (which is my favorite 'look' in the world and when I see such a character, it's instant Favorite)--seriously, she's her cover-art twin.
Well, turns out Dixie is something like the country cousin of Sasha LaFleur, another sequel-starring performer and Rita-type. (There's a proud little tradition of animated Saluki-like dogs, of which Rita, Sasha, & Dixie are the main representatives, which I have adored with a strong passion since childhood!) Dixie also has her similarities with Georgette, the Oliver & Company Poodle. A force to be reckoned with and of course the love interest of Cash, she's the most interesting character. Thanks to show business, her and Cash's relationship is a very rocky road. Visually Dixie, like her predecessors, is an amazing character to watch; the way she moves and dances just perfectly captures how you'd want to look if you were a dog--at least, how I would! She steals every scene she's in, & has an awesome personality that includes a devious streak, and I'm glad she's such a central character. Her song is probably the best part of the film. In fact, this movie probably should have been a separate, Singin Strays-centric non-sequel. So to wrap up, this movie basically blew me away--two thumbs up just for stunning me.