As anyone who has searched the depths of Netflix knows, the 90s were a weird time that featured many strange films and cult classics, Air Bud being the former. But what exactly is Air Bud? No, this film isn’t about wireless earphones – it’s about a dog playing basketball.
This 1997 sports comedy was directed by Charles Martin Smith, an actor / director best known for his role in George Lucas’ American Graffiti. The film had a reported budget of 3 million US dollars and, incredibly, made 27.8 million dollars, making the film a financial success. The film received a rating of a PG meaning it was suitable for families – this probably contributed to its high earnings on the opening weekend.
But what is it even about? A young boy and a talented stray dog with an amazing basketball playing ability become instant friends. Rebounding from his father’s accidental death, 12-year-old Josh Framm moves with his family to the small town of Fernfield, Washington. The new kid in town, Josh has no friends and is too shy to try out for the school basketball team. Instead, he prefers to practice alone on an abandoned court. He befriends a runaway golden retriever named Buddy. Josh is amazed when he realizes that Buddy loves basketball…that is, playing basketball…and he is GOOD! Josh eventually makes the school team and Buddy is named the Team Mascot. Josh and Buddy become the stars of halftime. Buddy’s half-time talent draws media attention. Unfortunately, when Buddy’s mean former owner, Norm Snively, comes along with a scheme to cash in on the pup’s celebrity, it looks like they are going to be separated.
The films simple narrative earned it sub-par reviews with 45% from the critics on rotten tomatoes and a 5.3/10 on IMDB. However, it wasn’t just critics that didn’t enjoy this film – it received an atrocious audience score of 38% and I would have to say this a fair comment.
The film falls flat at every hurdle and could have done more in every aspect. Besides the unique wacky scenario of a dog playing basketball the rest of the film is as boring and generic as any dog movie can be.