Quick Hit: Disney and a basketball playing dog somehow warm my heart.
When one of the DFP faithful first sent this in (indeed, the entire franchise – sorry friend, that’s not gonna happen), my heart sank. That’s because I truly didn’t feel like watching this movie. It sounded like an entire slog through an unforgiving Disneyfied landscape that includes clowns, dogs, and sad children.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. I found myself smiling, nearly laughing at times, and generally getting the warm feeling I associate with all the best Disney movies. That’s because, despite the fact that the movie isn’t going to win any awards, the movie is pure of heart and fun to boot. For those that don’t know, Air Bud features Buddy, a dog that has talent that has been taken advantage of in a show called “Clown and the Hound” featuring none other than Michael Jeter as the Clown in question. Dubious events lead to Buddy being stranded on a road, where eventually more events lead him to be befriended by Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers), a young boy whose father recently passed away (Thanks a lot Disney).
Buddy eventually gives Josh the confidence in his new town to try out for basketball, and a reason to begin to be himself again despite his father’s passing. All this is well and good, and Buddy somehow is able to play basketball and gets the entire town behind him. This leads to some humorous scenes of being flabbergasted that a dog could be taught a trick. I mean, really?
But despite it all, the dog, a grinning golden retriever, begins to win over even the most cynical of critics. That’s because the movie feels just so genuine. Whether it’s the improbable side characters like Arthur Chaney, he of the New York Knicks that now is somehow a janitor/coach at a middle school giving advice like – play with an invisible ball – or Jeter’s Clown, who is a throwback to all the angry comedy of the Stooges, there are laughs that are sprinkled throughout that just about everyone will crack a smile at. It’s kind of fun, despite the fact that the movie itself is as cliché as you can get.
As a nineties child, I remember when the Airbud proliferation began to spread. But I didn’t remember the movie being as cutesy as it is. But the movie is fun, heart-warming, and you’ll find yourself chanting “Buddy” too by the end of the movie. I’m giving it a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"