Air Bud

Reviewed by Dan Lybarger

August 3, 1997

Kids will probably adore Air Bud, but they also see a subtle artistry in Power Rangers that escapes most adults.

Actually, Air Bud does have some modestly entertaining moments, but a stale script and flat derivative direction from Charles Martin Smith (who’s best known for his performance in American Graffiti) keep the story from really taking off.

Buddy the Dog stars as a golden retriever who is abandoned by his previous owner, an abusive clown (Michael Jeter from The Fisher King). Out on his own, Buddy soon bonds with a lonely boy named Josh (Kevin Zegers) whose father has recently died. Buddy doesn’t merely lift Josh’s spirits; he also develops a passion for Josh’s favorite sport--basketball. Buddy can shoot like Michael Jordan and can get past such obstacles as fences.

In fact, Buddy is smarter than most of the people involved in this project. While the basketball footage isn’t too spectacular (some of Buddy’s hoop shooting is obviously the result of editing), much of Buddy’s activities are interesting. Air Bud becomes temporarily fun when Buddy has some new opportunity to make fools of the humans around him. He has a rather expressive face, and keeps up with the two-legged thespians just fine.

Unfortunately, Air Bud spends far too much time with Josh. While Zegers is a capable child actor, the story writers Paul Tamasy and Aaron Mendelsohn cook up for him isn’t fresh. Air Bud seems to have been written by a computer. Josh has predictable difficulties with bullies and his own low self-esteem. You even get to hear him say to his mom, "Can I keep him?"

While Air Bud is adequate children’s fare, Buddy’s own story is far more fascinating. Apparently, Buddy wandered into future owner Kevin DiCicco’s yard. He had been abused and even filled with buckshot. Since his discovery Buddy has gone on to demonstrate his basketball abilities on David Letterman’s show and in TV commercials. Buddy has reportedly sunk as many as 22,000 baskets. Buddy’s efforts are inspiring; the movie isn’t (PG). Rating: 4.


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This page was last updated on 10/28/97.
Ó 1997 Dan Lybarger




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