We apologize for how slow reviews have been coming out. We had to take a hiatus as several of our staff have been implicated in the Russian Hacking Scandal. Fortunately we are now allowed to continue reviewing.
“So, what should I review?” I asked myself a week ago. I wanted to review Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, but that was in October. Instead I decided to review the entire Air Bud film series! In order, of course. Starting with Air Bud 1: Ball is Life. The story of a boy discovering that his dead father inhabits the body of a tortured dog that can perform tricks. But we will get to that more later…
The movie opens to a clown driving a truck with a dog carrier in the back. Pretty normal stuff if you ask me. He is going to a town called Fernfield, where anything is possible (that is their slogan). The clown sucks at clowning. Once he realizes that he is a failure, he starts doing tricks with the dog. He throws balls at the dog’s face (Air Bud catches the balls) and eventually does a trick where the dog hits an inflatable ball through his arms. Instead, the ball hits him in the face…which causes the clown to go berserk like he is Goofy. The dog runs around, the children are screaming, and the clown slips on a banana and falls into the cake.
The clown blames the dog for his failures and threatens to take him to the pound. However, he left the tailgate down on the back of the truck. The carrier eventually falls out of the truck and is narrowly missed by a semi. However, the carrier is hit by a car (with the dog still inside). The mother in the car is unphased and is instead concerned about her crying daughter. The boy sees a dog come out of the crate wearing a clown suit. He doesn’t say anything, I would also assume that I am hallucinating though. The mom doesn’t notice and would have ran over the dog if it hadn’t been on the other side. The dog follows them to their home, more or less.
We learn that Josh’s (the kid) dad has recently died. This is why I hypothesize that Air Bud is his father, maybe it is because I have recently watched Nine Lives. But I digress, the kid finds an abandoned church which is overgrown. The backyard contains a basketball court, because ball is life. Over the next few scenes he restores the basketball court to its former glory. Air Bud is living in the bushes of the court because Air Bud knows all. Air Bud also loves vanilla pudding, and this is how the kid lures the dog to leave the bushes and later they engage in a basketball playing montage.
Josh wants to play basketball, and shows up at a practice and just sits there. In talking to the team the coach says, “If you can win on the courts you can win at life”. So ball is indeed life, this is the moral of the story and everything else is secondary.
After a few days of hanging out, Josh takes air bud home to wash him, which then leads to this stupid song Splish Splash. A cleaning the dog montage takes place where he dries off the dog with a leaf blower, and even sprayed perfume in the dog’s face to freshen him up. Please don’t do this to your dogs.
His mother arrives at the house and Josh tries to hide the dog. Unfortunately, Ball if Life and the dog wrecks the house by chasing after a basketball. Josh is made to put up “lost dog” signs around the town, which ends Air Bud eating his ice cream cone. This dog has eaten vanilla pudding, spaghettiO’s, and ice cream. Please don’t feed these to your dogs. We are only 1/3rd of the way through the movie….I’ll try to pick up the pace.
Jumping forward a little bit, the janitor shows up like a wise black guy in a Stephen King story. He tells Josh about using cold water to wash the basketball uniforms (he is the team manager), and asks Josh why he puts up with this shit. Josh’s response is “Ball is Life”, in essence. Josh discovers that the janitor is probably former NBA legend Arthur Chaney (played by Clevelander Bill Cobbs). Josh has his basketball card because of course he does and that is not weird at all.
Josh was mistakenly given a tryout invitation, and the coach seemed pissed about it. However, Josh balls out and makes the team. One kid on the team is a major asshole for no good reason. Seriously, these kids look like they’re in 5th grade. That kid’s dad is also a horrible human being.
Meanwhile… during the game Air Bud breaks out of the house and makes his way to the court. Josh is thrown into the game which means Air Bud must chase the ball around. The dog proves himself to be faster and stronger on the ball than everyone else. NO ONE CAN STOP HIM. One ref eventually puts a towel over his head in shame. Somehow Josh grabs the ball and Air Bud knocks it into the hoop. Everyone stops in sheer amazement and cheers uncontrollably as if they saw this Michigan punter blow the game single handedly. The end result is a mom? the principal? trying to set Josh up with a girl.
DRAMA HAPPENS NEXT. Air bud goes back to the court, because ball is life, and we get to witness the coach going full Rutgers on a player. He gets fired and replaced by the dog. PSYCH, they replace him with the ex-NBA playing janitor. Why wasn’t he always the coach? idk. In the first practice the coach performs a magic trick, the kids don’t seem to care.
Larry, the asshole kid, gets benched during the game for not being a team player. I only mention this because the family ends up moving to a new city just so their asshole kid can play elementary school basketball. At the end of the game Josh has the opportunity to make a 3 like Kyrie to win the game, however he misses the shot.
The coach, being a wise black man, knows that ball is life. He also knows that Air Bud understands this, because he just likes to ball and doesn’t care about stats. Unfortunately Air Bud would be an awful teammate, his off the ball work is non-existent and he sucks at defense.
A minor subplot in this movie is the mystery of the disappearing newspapers. However the mom finds them all buried in the backyard. While digging up the mountain of newspapers the Clown guy shows up behind her to claim the dog. The mom is totally okay with a creepy guy showing up on her property and claiming the dog is his. Josh begins to cry because he is a child, he also begins leaving vanilla pudding at the church basketball court.
Josh finds out where the clown lives, which is apparently within walking distance of his house? He breaks in and steals the dog. Which results in a ridiculous scene that would take too much time to detail. Overall the clown is defeated by running water, proceeds to chase the kid and dog in his truck, and almost kills a couple people because he is driving through a park. This ends in what should most certainly be his death since the truck is literally falling apart. The steering wheel even comes off and he crashes into the lake, which means he should be impaled as he wasn’t even wearing a seat belt. Nope, he lives. But let’s count this as the first should-be death in the series.
Josh knows that Air Bud won’t leave him alone so he tries to convince the dog to be free. He tries yelling at Air Bud to “Go on, get!”, which we all know is the hardest thing to say to a dog. To highlight the emotion in the scene, the dog mentions that he wants to tend the rabbits. PSYCH. instead Josh throws the ball and Air Bud chases it. The kid runs away.
BACK AT SCHOOL its the big game. The coach, who was a professional basketball player at one point, mentions that these have been the best months of his life. I call BS on that. The team is down to only 7 players because of the chicken pox. Larry is now on the other team, which is actually good for everyone because its not like he was going to make the championship game with the first team anyway. These kids clearly suck at defense as one team has 50 points at the half!
As stated, the team is shorthanded and need everyone they can to play. Unfortunately one kid fouls out and two more injure each other. How can they win playing 4 on 5? Well, we’ll never know because Air Bud shows up ready to ball. 99.9999% of the time if a dog shows up to a little league basketball game wearing a jersey and shoes, nobody says the dog should play. However, this is no ordinary day…
The coach argues that the dog should be allowed to play because he is a registered member of the team. How do we know this? Because he practices and travels with the team. I guess that is all it takes to be a REGISTERED MEMBER. With whom is this dog registered? I don’t know. He isn’t even a student, which I imagine is a necessary part of being a registered member of the team. If not, then why did Larry have to move to Spokane to join the Warriors?
ANYWAY the coach then challenges the ref on the rules. The ref recites his famous “there ain’t no rule that says a dog can’t play basketball.” line. The other coach is pissed off, rightfully so. Arthur Chaney then challenges the other coach by calling him chicken if he doesn’t want to allow a dog to play in this game, AND IT FUCKING WORKS. This is just Back to the Future rules in a movie about magic and dogs.
Stupid stuff happens, like this line, “Does he dribble? No but he might drool a little bit.” Fuck this. Air bud wins a jump ball by scaring the kid with a bark. Fuck this. This is Air Bud at its worst.
The team is rolling and are now down by 4 with 20 seconds left. Larry, the asshole, gives a hard foul to the dog, which forces the dog to shoot a 1 on 1 because this association has college rules. Larry realizes that he hit a fucking dog in a little league basketball game and finally questions his life, unfortunately for him Air Bud then gives him a nut shot and steals the ball.
Josh is open in an identical situation to the last game, where he can make a 3 to win the game. This time he has the confidence and the spirit to make the shot. THEY WIN THE GAME. The clown shows up to take the dog away, yep this movie isn’t over yet. They go to court because OF COURSE THEY DO. This movie will never end, don’t you see? Also this is a more ridiculous court room than God’s Not Dead 2.
“Holy Toledo what is that dog doing in the courthouse?” Says the judge, I agree. “I will not have my courtroom turned into some kind of a circus!”, says the judge. As the dude shows up wearing his clown getup. Such easy jokes.
The clown claims he has papers to prove that the dog is his, because the fucking dog has fucking papers. The Clown also says that the boy is a criminal, despite this not being the place to make those claims. However, the dog barks every time the judge slams the gavel which leads to a series of jokes about the dog barking that is reminiscent of Abbot and Costello except with a dog.
The family are trying to prove that the guy abuses the dog, and they don’t have any proof. IF ONLY THEY REMEMBERED WHEN THEY FOUND THE DOG CRATE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Josh is so dumb that he can’t remember this? or he thinks its a different dog? I think he believes the dog is magic and didn’t actually come out of the crate.
Arthur Chaney walks in because he is the wise black man with all the answers. His argument? Dog is man’s best friend and therefore the dog should be able to choose what man he is friends with. I would reject this argument outright, but instead the judge who did NOT want his court room to become a circus decides to entertain this. The coach also argues that the dog is 3 or 4 years old, which makes him an adult in our years. I’m not misquoting…I just can’t tell if this was an intentional writing mistake…
So it is the moment of truth as they set up outside of the courthouse with Air Bud in the middle and the two people on either side. Air bud is lured by the clown because he brought a newspaper, which Air Bud then rips off like he is tearing off the chains of slavery and then runs over to Josh. Roll Credits.
This movie is bonkers, but there is also a lot less action than one might expect. They take the relatively basic concept of a dog being able to hit a basketball into a hoop and extrapolate it to playing basketball on a kid’s team. The movie itself, when it comes to children’s dog based movies, isn’t all that bad. I still wouldn’t suggest feeding your dog the Air Bud diet, but at least he is getting a workout.
40/100 is the rating. The dog only plays in one game. I feel the more the dog actually plays the sport competitively the worse the movie gets.
Death count: 1
Josh also appeared in Dawn of the Dead.
The actor who played Air Bud died, a new dog plays Air Bud in the other movies.
What? Other movies? YES there are a total of 14 movies in the Air Bud cinematic universe. If you want to read more about them, stay tuned, I am doing them all!
Last review: God’s Not Dead 2
Next review: Air Bud: Golden Receiver