In late 1992, a dog named Buddy made headlines after appearing on America’s Funniest Home Videos and The Late Show with David Letterman. Buddy could do amazing things like shoot a basketball into the net with his nose. That lead to a 1997 Disney film called Air Bud. It became an instant success, so you know the mindset of Disney these days, why not create a sequel? They did just that a year later with Air Bud: Golden Receiver.
In Air Bud: Golden Receiver, Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers), is now in the eighth grade. He still loves basketball, an interest he shares with Buddy, the stray golden retriever whom he adopted. Of course, Buddy eventually became his teammate and as a result was an inspiration to his fictional town of Fernfield, Washington.
A year later, though, Josh’s widowed mom (Cynthia Stevenson) is dating Buddy’s new vet (Gregory Harrison), and Josh joins the school football team, the Timberwolves, alongside his friend Tom (Shayn Solberg). Of course, the Timberwolves aren’t that good and Josh soon overhears that the future of the good-natured Coach Fanelli (Robert Costanzo) depends on the team’s success. Josh also coincidentally learns that Buddy can also catch a football in his mouth. Josh’s younger sister Andrea (Alyson MacLaren) makes Buddy an uniform and he is soon the star of the team. Once Buddy makes headlines as the savior to the Timberwolves football team, though, he catches the eyes of a pair of Russian immigrants (Perry Anzilotti and Nora Dunn) who abduct animals for their traveling animal circus.
This film is really a carbon copy of the original Air Bud. It’s almost like they hit the reset button and just added in a new sport and actors. The only continuity is the fact that Josh’s dad is still dead, and he is still dealing with his death. That makes the main sub-plot more compelling. Air Bud: Golden Receiver is still about a dog helping a football team win games with his unusual sports playing abilities. But it is also almost as much about Josh’s mom moving on with a new man in her life, and Josh not being quite ready for that just yet. It doesn’t make Air Bud: Golden Receiver any less predictable, however. There are cliches everywhere and eventually the only comedy to be found is in the stereotypical dumb criminals who try to kidnap Buddy.
The acting certainly isn’t the greatest. In fact, the only one that is better than average is Robert Costanzo. The worst has to be the Russian immigrants, Perry Anzilotti and Nora Dunn, who play poor versions of Boris and Natasha from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. They raise the slapstick quotient to a high level. Young kids will certainly laugh, but their parents will likely be left rolling their eyes.
Air Bud: Golden Receiver is pretty much like the original Air Bud in every way. Instead of basketball, Buddy can now play football. It’s actually less believable this time. The acting also takes a step down, including the fact that it takes 4 dogs to replace the deceased original real-life “Buddy” for this film. The wacky, dumb criminals and the dog that can overcome them will likely still leave young kids laughing histerically throughout, though. The only real redeeming quality for this movie is the fact that it somewhat talks about how divorced or widowed parents can talk to their kids about them moving on in their lives with someone new. So unless you have young kids that really loved the first film or the later series of Buddies films, or are in that tough situation yourself, Air Bud: Golden Receiver is probably best left unwatched.
The video included is available in both widescreen color presented at the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The quality is good, but not the greatest. The film is over 10 years old, so it shows some of its ages, but overall a solid video quality here. No major problems at all.
The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so it’s not really a major upgrade over the first DVD release of this film. No major problems here either.
“The Buddies’ Sports Channel” Audio Commentary –
This runs 6 minutes, and it has the five distinctive puppies from all the Buddies films, including Mudbud, B-Dawg, Buddha, Budderball, and Rosebud, all doing color commentary over the football game footage from this film. They constantly remind you that are real dogs throughout their commentary. Should be fun for the kids, but not anyone else.
Air Bud Dog Whistle –
This is a loud copper-colored whistle that your kids can blow on and be heard loud-and-clear. Repeat don’t blow on this whistle or give it to your kids unless you want your ears to hurt.
If you liked the original Air Bud, you will probably enjoy this film. Young kids will especially love this film. This special edition DVD set only includes one Buddies commentary that will likely annoy older people, and a whistle that will also hurt your ears. So it’s not really must-own material here, even if you like this film. Is it even recommended as a rental? Well only if you really liked the original film. All others will want to pass.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents Air Bud: Golden Receiver. Directed by Richard Martin. Written by Paul Tamasy and Aaron Mendelsohn (screenplay); Kevin DiCicco (character). Starring Kevin Zegers, Gregory Harrison, Cynthia Stevenson, Nora Dunn, Perry Anzilotti, Robert Costanzo, Shayn Solberg, Suzanne Ristic, Alyson MacLaren, Tim Conway, and Dick Martin. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated G. Released on DVD: February 2, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Kevin Zegers