THE FOX AND THE HOUND -- At the AMC Carrollton, Flower Twins, Laurel Town Center, NTI Buckingham, NTI Dale Cinema, NTI Jefferson, Nti White Flint, Roth's Americana, Roth's Montgomery, Roht's 301 Drive-In, Showcase Beacon Mall, Showcase Fair City Mall, Towncenter Sterling and Wheaton Plaza.
Like a faked antique that copies the physical characteristics of the original but misses the spirit, the new animated Disney film, "The Fox and the Hound," looks like "Bambi" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" but exudes phony innocence.
This is the 20th full-length animated Disney film, done by what the studio calls its new generation of animators. It's full of fat baby animals who look cutest when they are indignant, frightening thunderstorms in a forest of menacing-looking trees, teardrops running slowly down faces and drops of water splashing upwards from puddles and rivers, and animals with long curling eyelashes and batting eyelids to indicate femininity.
Some details anachronistically remaining from the Disney heyday will probably have to be explained to alert young viewers -- the old models of cars, for example, and the insult intended when both animal and human shout "Female!" at members of that sex.
But this is no adult-and-child-alike heart-grabber. You don't have to be very old to notice that it has a pointless story, and only a little bit thoughful to understand how muddled the morality is. The disney films that are remembered with such fondness, and, indeed, still enjoyed, were not afraid of cruelty and conflict, but this one is aggressively harmless.
Mickey Rooney is the voice of the fox, who grows up under the protection of a human old lady, next door to a hunting dog whose master is a hunter. Friends in their romping days, and animals part as mature animals, when the fox wants to hang on to the friendship but the dog wants to pursue his natural occupation. The other characters are an owl called Big Mama, whose voice is that of Pearl Bailey, and an eyelash-fluttering vixen, with the voice of Sandy Duncan.
If this is a parable about the need for friendship among those of different races or nationalities, it fails to explain why it's humorous for birds to chase an anthropomorphized caterpillar but wicked for a dog to chase a fox, or, for that matter, what these soft-hearted foxes eat when they are turned loose in the forest.
Not that anyone of any age would be deeply troubled by morality if their hearts had been touched.