[Screen It]


(1997) (Kevin Zegers, Michael Jeter) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Minor None Moderate Minor None
Mild None None None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
None None Mild Mild Minor

Children's: A new kid in town teams up with a basketball playing dog.
Twelve-year-old Josh Framm (KEVIN ZEGERS) moves to the small town of Fernfield, Washington with his mother, Jackie (WENDY MAKKENA) and younger sister. Still recovering from the tragic loss of his father, Josh is depressed and too shy to make new friends. Although he's given up playing basketball, he takes a job as the "towel boy" for his new school's team. Things look up, though, when he befriends a golden retriever that formerly belonged to a hapless party Clown, Norm Snively (MICHAEL JETER). The dog's reluctant to get near Josh, but soon they befriend each other and Josh learns that the dog, Buddy, has a knack for playing basketball. On a long abandoned Church basketball court, Josh finds that Buddy can actually "shoot" the ball through the hoop. This inspires Josh and he tries out for the team whose new coach, Arthur Chaney (BILL COBBS), the school engineer and former NBA star, teaches his players about teamwork. As they start winning and Buddy becomes a local celebrity, Snively sees his former pet as a gold mine and takes the dog back. From that point on, Josh and his newfound friends must do what they can to prove that Buddy would rather be with him than with his nasty former owner.
Younger kids probably will, but older children will probably think this film is too immature for them.
The reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for "thematic elements" that were too much for a G rated film.
  • KEVIN ZEGERS plays a kid who overcomes his depression and learns that teamwork is good. His worst offense is that he releases Buddy from Snively's yard after the clown has rightfully reacquired him.
  • MICHAEL JETER plays a lowlife with a bad attitude who one minute wants to take Buddy to the pound, but then wants him back after learning he can make money from him.
  • WENDY MAKKENA plays the standard single suburban mom, but still she's a good role model.
  • BILL COBBS plays the school engineer turned coach who teaches the kids good lessons about teamwork and integrity.


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    Taking into account who this picture is made for, "Air Bud" is a small, pleasant film that will more than likely entertain its target audience of young kids. While the story is a retread of the loner boy who finds an animal and grows up because of that, this take on that plot will still win them, and perhaps you, over. There's never any doubt as to what will happen or how the story will end. That's what kids love, though and they'll cheer when the "bad guy" loses out and Buddy helps win the big game, even though adults will find most, if not all, of this predictable. Parents will find this film mildly entertaining, but will like the fact that there's nearly nothing objectionable in it beyond some bad attitudes. Most enjoyable is Buddy and his basketball skills. It's noted that no special effects were used during the basketball scenes, and the fact that this dog can actually "shoot," or more accurately "nose," a ball through the hope is quite amazing. Kids will love the scenes with Buddy and his on and off court antics. Unfortunately there are many long stretches where this doesn't occur, and while that makes for passable drama, many children in our screening got restless during these moments. In addition, the beginning plot element of Josh being depressed over the loss of his father may be a bit more than some parents thought would be present in a film such as this. While it's not overly heavy or deeply disturbing, some younger kids may question what's going on. Even so, those scenes fade away as Josh lightens up and the focus turns to basketball. Adults will find the "big" final game to be boring, but kids will love it, and that's what counts as this film is made for them. Although it certainly could have been more imaginative and added a bit more to entertain the adults on their level, it does an adequate job of doing that for the young ones. And for that, we give this film a 5 out of 10.
    There's nearly nothing to object to in this film other than a few cases of bad attitudes. Obviously Snively has both, and as the "villain" we guess that's required, but it's rather tame compared to similar characters in other kid movies. A few players are mean to Josh (again in a very tame way) and a coach is fired because of his treatment of one player. Beyond the topic of losing a parent (as described above), and a few bits of imitative behavior, the rest of the categories have little or no objectionable material.

  • Snively has a stack of beer cans in his window and talks to an agent about Buddy doing a beer commercial.
  • A judge comments on spilling beer on his wife decades ago while watching Chaney play basketball.
  • None.
  • Snively has both as he first plans to take Buddy to the pound for making the clown look like a fool at a birthday party (he had already done that by himself). After learning that Buddy has become famous, however, he wants the dog back so that he can make money off him. At the very beginning of the movie he also states that he hates kids, birthday parties, and being a clown.
  • Some students are mean to Josh calling him "towel boy" and laughing at him but none of it's too bad.
  • Josh briefly pokes around Chaney's personal belongings in the school basement before he knows who he is.
  • The first coach of the team pushes his players too hard. After losing a game, he's seen heaving basketballs at one of the boys for making a mistake, and he's later fired because of this.
  • One player is a ball hog and doesn't want to be a team player, and his father reinforces this attitude.
  • Josh grabs Buddy from Snively's home and frees him in the wilderness. While the audience feels this is the right thing to do (since Snively isn't nice to Buddy), the dog is legally his and thus Josh is technically breaking the law.
  • Jackie almost hits Buddy (in his cage) on the street with her truck, but stops in time.
  • There are a few scenes where Josh hears something and sees some rustling in the brush near the basketball court. While there's no scary music and we know that it's Buddy, younger kids might not and may find this a little unsettling.
  • Younger kids may be upset when Snively shows up and takes Buddy away from Josh, but the scene isn't inherently scary or tense.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Geez," "Sucks," "Shut up," and "Idiot."
  • Josh takes in Buddy as a stray, and bathes him in the bathtub (creating a mess), to persuade his mother to let him keep the dog.
  • Josh brushes Buddy's teeth with his mother's toothbrush (though not to be mean to her).
  • Josh opens a circuit box (an electrical panel with exposed wiring) outside at an abandoned church and turns on the power. While nothing happens to him, some kids may try to imitate this.
  • Josh hops the fence at a boarded up, deserted church. Later he cleans up the abandoned court and knocks down a fence. While he makes the place look better, he's still doing this on property that's not his ie. He's trespassing.
  • Josh grabs Buddy from Snively's home and frees him in the wilderness. While the audience feels this is the right thing to do (since Snively isn't nice to Buddy), the dog is legally his and thus Josh is technically breaking the law.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • 3 hells and 1 use each of "God" and "Oh my God" are used as exclamations.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Josh is depressed over the recent (one year) death of his father and his mother has moved the family to this town in hopes that it will revive the boy's spirit.
  • The loss of a parent.
  • Approaching and taking in stray animals.
  • How teamwork is better than individual play.
  • A young child kicks Snively (dressed as a clown) in the shin at a birthday party.
  • Snively chases Buddy through a house and knocks over some furniture and lands on a table, crushing it to the floor.
  • Some players are knocked down playing basketball, but none of it's down maliciously other than once in practice. In addition, a basketball accidentally hits a player in the groin.
  • The first coach of the team repeatedly heaves balls at a player for "losing" a game. He's fired because of this.
  • There's some slapstick stuff with Snively repeatedly slipping and falling in mud. Moments later, he backs his truck through a fence, knocks over a swing set, runs over a sign, crashes into a parked car, and finally loses control of his truck and drives into a harbor.

  • Reviewed August 1, 1997

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