The Screening Room
THE STUDIO GATE
"Air Bud" came out in theaters in 1997, a year before my daughter was born.
I've enjoyed going to see some Disney family movies on my own without a
kid in tow. But this movie wasn't one that I had paid to see, or even
rent on video. A few sequels later, I'm now familiar with the "Air
Bud/Air Buddies" concept. My daughter made sure of that!
"Air Bud: Special Edition" is now available on DVD.
Over a decade has passed since "Air Bud" played in theaters and no doubt
sold many video copies. I still hadn't seen it until now. The movie
can't be placed up on the Disney classics shelf with "Old Yeller" or
"Lady and the Tramp," but it's a decent movie that won't challenge your
mind or pull tears from your eyes.
The script borrows from "Lassie" and "E.T." by writing a story about a
lonely dog and an outcast boy. The dog is abandoned by his owner, a mean
clown performer (Michael Jeter) and is found by Josh (Kevin Zegers). Of
course, Josh's mom (Wendy Mekkena) is trying to start a new life in
town, which complicates things for him. Add to the mixture a talented,
but playful dog in Bud, there's mayhem to be had.
The movie is fairly typical of 1990s sentimentality and the script
relies on a formulalic plot where you can predict how it's going to end.
It also feels like a movie that's been shot for television, and that
perhaps was on purpose. But that's not being fair to the movie. It's
actually quite decent entertainment. I can recall the commercials
portraying Bud as a super basketball playing dog. He's got some playing
time with the team, but the movie really focuses on Josh. Yes, the movie
is a bit slow going at first, but once it picks up, it becomes charming.
Michael Jeter was quite a good actor, and it's a shame he passed away so
young. He makes for a pretty scary villian in this movie. I'd even
hazard to say he's almost too convincing as a villian. But the "Air Bud"
sequels I've seen feature bumbling crooks and they're not nearly as
effective as he is.
Bud is always fun to watch. You can't go wrong with a playful, friendly
Golden Retriever who can shoot hoops.
"Air Bud" isn't the greatest dog movie ever made, but it's certainly
spawned enough sequels to keep Disney and its original producer happy.
Robert Vince is working on "Santa Buddies" for Christmas. Buddy, or Air
Bud, would be a proud papa dog.
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © BVHE. All
DVD Quick Glimpse
The "Air" movie that started it all
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Cast: Michael Jeter, Kevin Zegers, Wendy
"Dog-U-Commentary" by The Buddies
Sound: Very Good
This is the Bud that speaks on his own
Aspect Ratio (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD RELEASE DATE
March 3, 2009