Air Bud: Golden Receiver - Special Edition
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (14th April 2010).
The Film

For Disney, making a kid’s movie in the 90’s wasn’t rocket science. It was barely even advanced physics, its just simple math. White kid with mild family issues + thing kids like/want = $. “Rookie of the Year” (1993) = broken arm and no father + playing major league baseball = $53 million. “Air Bud” (1997) = kid with no father + dog and basketball = $23 million. And don’t even worry about the sequels, just plug something more into the formula and it means some instant profit on the cheap. Honestly, the hardest part may be figuring out what pun to add after the colon in the title. “Air Bud: Golden Reciever” (1998) = same kid, still no father + same dog and now football = $10 million.

Not too long after the events of “Air Bud,” Josh (Kevin Zegers) and his dog are still best friends and playing basketball together, but now it’s fall and Josh has less to do. Meanwhile his mom is still dating around and meeting new guys. Her latest prospect is the town’s veterinarian Dr. Patrick Sullivan (Gregory Harrison) who brings Josh a football while trying to win him over. After throwing the ball around a little bit, Josh realizes he has a little bit of a throwing arm and is looking for a way to avoid Dr. Sullivan’s courtship of Josh’s mom since he’s over at the house all the time. Of course this means Josh joins the football team as the backup quarterback. On his first outing in a game after their starter gets a season ending injury, Josh is helped out by Buddy’s immaculate football skills. Buddy joins the team and the winning begins. And somewhere in here is a vauge subplot about ambiguously Russian circus folk trying to kidnap Buddy, but it’s just to meet the 90 minute runtime.

For a movie about a kid and a dog playing football, it’s about what you would expect. Bad child acting, combined with some bad adult acting and animal tricks for an hour and a half. This movie is every little bit the 90’s kid’s comedy that you would expect, filled with blunders, wacky sound effects and quick cuts to animals that are supposed to be punchlines.

But for as bad as you would expect the kids to be in the movie, the adults are almost worse. Sometimes bad movies will have an all-star trying to pull something out of nothing, but really there is absolutely nothing here. There’s the coach played by Robert Costranzo who eats hot and cold hoagie sandwiches and makes references to being Italian. There are comedians like Tim Conway and Nora Dunn just playing the goof for a little bit for some extra cash. There are kids who wouldn’t cut it as an understudy for non-speaking roles in a grade school theatre production. All of these are to be expected and you sort of roll with the punches.

What surprised me about the writing though is that they went to odd stockpiles for their different characters. Rather than having the typical overzealous sports parent anywhere in the film, you get the stereotypical Italian and a couple of bad Boris and Natasha impersonations to pass off as mentor and villains respectively. You can’t expect much more for a film that is about a dog playing football, but it’s just suprising considering that they may have reached into the wrong bag of stock characters to pull out for the film.

But really if you have to read this review to decide whether or not to watch a movie about a dog playing football, you’re just not doing the math. If Dog + football + vauge villian sub-plot = comedy makes any sense whatsoever in your brain, then you’ve got it all figured out and probably live a more enjoyable life by taking pleasure in the simpler things. It doesn’t get at how mediocre the movie is, since it may be too plain to be really entertaining. Though I would hope that you would just rather watch re-runs of the “PuppyBowl” on animal planet or go play with your own dog rather than waste your time with a plain and boring attempt at showing animal tricks for an hour and a half.

Video

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film was obviously filmed in the 90’s as even the DVD transfer has the feel of a VHS. It may be the lighting or the way the movie is put together, but the film has a flatness to it that almost feels like a thin grey transparency has been put over the entirety of the film, muddling the contrast, colors and even shoddy green screen sequences thrown into the middle of it. For 1997 and only being 13 years old I would have expected the film to maintain a little better quality wise, but it seems like they decided to just relable the 2000 release of the film since the quality doesn’t seem up to today’s standards.

Audio

Like usual, the audio quality about matches the visual, as the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a little muted and incomplete, missing any kind of remastering shine to it that would have improved the film. There isn’t much to add to in the audio as the soundtrack just oscilates between wacky sports music and sad 90’s music, and all the sound effects just have to do with the dog breathing, moving or whatever is supposed to be comedic relief in the scene having a slip and blunder. It’s all a little flat and disinteresting, but in that respect it perfectly mirrors the film. I can’t really expect immaculate presentation from a movie about a dog playing football from the late 90’s.
There’s also a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio track, with English for the hearing impaired and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

A small collection of extras on this disc include a featurette and a collection bonus trailers, below is a closer look.

The only special feature on this re-release is “The Buddie’s Sports Channel” featurette which runs for 6 minutes and 5 seconds, where Air Bud’s puppies, the Buddies, offer a play-by-play commentary on the few football scenes in the film, something that comes up in a brief montage in the film, replayed here with the always annoying voices of the Buddies, with some teleprompter imitations on Air Bud’s catches. Plus it isn’t doing any favors for your kids’ grammar.

Of course the bonus trailers collectively run longer than the only special feature, but they’re more interesting to watch. They are for:

- “Disney Blu-ray: Magic in High-Def” runs for 1 minute and 4 seconds.
- “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” runs for 1 minute and 42 seconds.
- “Toy Story 3” runs for 2 minutes and 21 seconds.
- “Disney Movie Rewards” runs for 20 seconds.
- “Ponyo” runs for 1 minute and 32 seconds.
- “Princess and the Frog” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds.
- “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” runs for 1 minute and 39 seconds.
- “Minnie’s Bow-tique” runs for 1 minute.
- “Friends for Change: Project Green” runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- “My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super-Duper Super Sleuths” runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- “Genuine Treasure: Tinker Bell” runs for 1 minute and 7 seconds.
- “Toy Story & Toy Story 2” runs for 1 minute and 17 seconds.

Packaging

The DVD comes in a slim case, housed in a cardboard box that makes it regular width for a dvd. Also included in the cardboard packaging is a golden whistle that has “Air Bud” printed on it.

Overall

The Film: D- Video: C+ Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: D

 


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