Movie Magazine International

Air Bud

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Pete Dunn

About a month ago I saw the trailer to a movie that I thought would be the hokiest movie of the summer, hands down... It was about a dog that plays basketball for a local junior high school team. Yeah, I know, that's what I thought. So, lo and behold, last week I hear from my producer, the erudite Monica Sullivan, and find that I had the "honor" of reviewing a new movie -- something called "Air Bud."

Well, I went into the theater and, fearing the worst, started watching the movie. It starts with young Josh Framm, a boy who recently lost his father, moving to a new town. He's all sad and mopey until he finds "Buddy." Buddy is a dog (surprise) that was part of an act called "Clown and a Hound." After creating havoc during his last show, Bud is abandoned by his owner. Josh and Buddy become inseparable as Josh learns that Buddy can shoot a basketball into a basket!! When Josh tries out for his junior high basketball team, who knows what kooky things will happen?

There were two solid acting performances given during the movie. The first is by "Buddy" who plays Buddy in the movie. The fact that he can shoot hoops is a plus, and I guess the fact that he looks real...real...cute, with his tongue wagging, is another plus. Golden retrievers just have that effect on people. And, believe it or not, Buddy shows great range and flexibility in his portrayal of an abandoned basketball-playing dog. Buddy portrayed the fear, anger, disgust, ecstasy of his character in a very cathartic and engaging manner. He displayed these emotions beautifully and definitely gets a gold star for his effort. So does Bill Cobbs as the former basketball star who becomes the team's coach. I thought he did a nice job in the role.

Besides those two performances, nothing about the movie really inspired me, the plot was pretty much a one-trick-pony: i.e. watch dog shoot hoops, watch dog shoot hoops again, watch ... well, you get the picture. The movie was done to showcase the abilities of Buddy, who really does play basketball and has been featured on David Letterman's stupid pet tricks and various NBA courts throughout the land. While the idea is cute, it is hard to sustain a movie on a single premise. The ending, middle and most other plot points are so predictable that even Mr. Magoo could figure them out -- without his glasses!

However, I do realize that this is a kids movie, so let me point out that there were two well-played "tear-jerker" scenes that left me a little saddened, and that the kids in the audience did laugh at some well done slapstick scenes, so they obviously appreciated it more than I did. My advice to you is simple: if it's a rainy summer day, and the kids really want to see the movie, find a responsible 15 year-old and have them take the kids to this movie, then you go see a movie that's a little more adult -- like "Air Bud One" ... oh, I mean "Air Force One," Sorry about that.

© 1997 - Pete Dunn - Air Date: 08/97

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