By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Six Beers) –
Buddy the golden retriever was a big novelty hit in the 90s for his uncanny ability to make basketball shots by bumping the ball with his snout. He had appearances on numerous morning show news broadcasts, Late Night with David Letterman and numerous other shows. This being the 90s, the novelty also translated into a lucrative children’s movie franchise, which as of this review’s publishing date has produced two theatrical films, eleven direct to video sequels, and another on the way.
The original Air Bud film tells the story of Buddy the dog, who escapes his alcoholic and menacing owner Norman Snively (Michael Jeter). Snively is cruel and greedy, the embodiment of all that is wrong with the world, and even worse; a clown.
All those years of therapy… wasted…
Buddy soon meets young Josh, a timid young boy who is struggling to fit in with his fellow school mates, and whose father has recently died in a tragic accident. Buddy soon demonstrates his uncanny basketball skills, and is quickly adopted as his middle-school basketball teams mascot. Buddy’s rising popularity soon attracts Snively, who decides to re-claim Buddy and exploit him for *gasp* money!
Michael Jeter is the sort of character actor who simply cannot deliver a bad performance. Even in this low budget cash-in of a film, Jeter gives his all, making his character by far the most interesting in the film (and did I mention creepy?).
(with apologies to Seanbaby of cracked.com)
The sole motive of villain in this film is to cash in at Buddy’s expense… kind of ironic don’t you think. I mean, making a point about exploitation for money doesn’t really ring true when the whole purpose of the film was to do the exact same thing.
The ironic storyline would be forgivable if the story wasn’t completely godawful. First off, the child actor who plays Josh is not at all likable, and has about as much acting range as a sawed off shotgun. The subplot of the kid having a recently deceased parent, and trouble with peers in school is cinematic shorthand for “I don’t even give a shit, lets copy-paste from the last children’s movie”. But at least Michael Jeter is in it (for those uninitiated, here is what Jeter is capable of:
At least in films like Rookie of the year, or Angels in the Outfield, the filmmakers found a unique way of getting the child involved in the sport. In this film instead we have the dog, who somehow winds up playing on the basketball team by the end. In order to explain away this
plothole plot chasm, they have a throw away scene where the referee explains that “there is no rule technically saying that a dog can’t play basketball”. Last I checked, you have to be a student enrolled in the school to play for it. Of course, in many areas home schooled children are allowed to participate in school sporting events, too, now… but like it or not, a golden retriever will not pass for a 12 year old boy.
They are however, eligible for the draft…
The excuse they use to get the dog on the team is so mind be-fowlingly stupid that I think it is going to deserve another beer.
There, now I feel better…
At the end of the film, the judge in the case decrees that the dog can choose who he wants his owner to be; young Josh, or evil Snively. This is a heart-tugging moment sure to make the little ones cry. And by the way, if your little ones do cry during this scene, you have failed as a parent.
Fans of Michael Jeter might be willing to stomach the film for his all too rare appearances, which are rewarding. Everyone else will likely agree this dog needed to be put down.
***pssst, hey you might want to know that Buddy the dog died less than a year after this movie came out***
Take a Drink: whenever Buddy scores a basket
Take a Drink: any time Michael Jeter does something dickish
Take a Drink: any time someone does something dickish to Michael Jeter
Do a Shot: for any insane leap of logic