The Screening Room
air bud
"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.         

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: BVHE. All rights reserved.
DVD Quick Glimpse


The "Air" movie that started it all

Director: Charles Martin Smith  

Cast: Michael Jeter, Kevin Zegers, Wendy Makkena 

"Dog-U-Commentary" by The Buddies


Picture: Good
Sound: Very Good

This is the Bud that speaks on his own

Aspect Ratio (1.85:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

March 3, 2009
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