Air Bud: Golden Receiver
by Laura Tucker
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We’re a football-watching, dog-loving family, so of course we’re going to be big fans of Air Bud: Golden Receiver, the second movie in the Air Bud franchise, originally released in 1998. In the first film, Buddy the dog loved the game of basketball and couldn’t stay away, becoming quite good in fact. So just from the name, we know this one’s going to have to do with Buddy adn a pigskin.
Buddy’s owner Josh (Kevin Zegers) and his buddy Tom are now in 8th grade. They take Buddy to the veterinarian one day and are shocked to not find the usual doctor. Instead, they find Dr. Patrick Sullivan (Gregory Harrison), who tells them he’s filling in during the other doctor’s sabbatical. Back at home, Josh’s mom, Jackie (Cynthia Stevenson), is looking to start dating again, and after a few attempts which Josh sabotages, she starts dating Dr. Sullivan, much to Josh’s dismay. He tries to bond with Josh by giving him a football, but it just upsets Josh more that this doctor doesn’t know him well enough to know that basketball is more his thing.
While all this is going on, there is also a rash of exotic animal thefts in town. The culprits behind this are the Russians Natalya and Popov (Nora Dunn and Perry Anzilotti). They’re creating their own circus, but need a main event. They see Buddy stealing time at a professional basketball game being aired on TV, and realize he’s their guy. They set a plan in motion to make him their final animal theft.
Not being able to bear being at home and seeing his mom and Dr. Sullivan spend time together, Josh tries out for the football team along with Tom. They get second string positions on the team, and Josh overhears the principal telling the coach that because of so many losing seasons, she is being forced to either get rid of the team, or him. When Josh gets upst about this and his mom’s relationship later and tosses the football, guess who catches it? That’s right, Buddy, setting up his involvement with the football team.
The saccharine-ness to these Buddy stories is a little implausible, but what’s not implausible is a ball-playing dog. If they can catch frisbees and ride skateboards, why not play basketball and football? Along with getting to see Gregory Harrison again, we also get cameos by Tim Conway and Dick Martin as football commentators. My biggest delight of the cast, though, was Robert Costranzo as Coach Fanelli who tells Josh that if all the school district cares about is winning, it’s not the place for him, as he’s only about doing it for the kids.
Air Bud: Golden Receiver is out now on DVD.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.
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