Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Martin Smith|
|Produced by||Robert Vince
|Written by||Paul Tamasy
|Music by||Brahm Wenger|
|Edited by||Alison Grace|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|August 1, 1997|
|Box office||$27.7 million|
Air Bud is a 1997 American family comedy film that sparked the franchise centered on the real-life dog, Buddy, a Golden Retriever. The film was financially successful, grossing $4 million in its opening weekend and totaling $27.7 million in its run, against an estimated $3 million budget.
In addition to an appearance on America's Funniest and Amazing Home Videos and multiple performances on David Letterman's shows, Buddy played the role of Comet on a February 1995 episode of Full House. Buddy's story is told in the 2012 book Go Buddy!
The plot revolves around a 12-year-old boy, Josh Framm. After the death of his father, who has passed on in the crash of a test flight due to a fuel shortage on his plane (this occurs offscreen before the start of the movie), Josh moves with his family to Washington State and is too shy to try out for his middle school's basketball team and too shy to make any friends. He practices basketball by himself in a makeshift court that he sets up in a disused allotment. He meets a stray dog named Buddy, a golden retriever who had escaped from his abusive owner, an unsuccessful professional clown named Norman F. Snively who is an alcoholic. Snively had locked Buddy in a transport kennel after causing trouble at a birthday party and was taking him to the dog pound when the kennel fell off the moving truck. Josh soon learns that Buddy has the uncanny ability to play basketball.
Josh's mom initially only agrees to let him keep the dog until Christmas and she plans to send him to the pound if the true owner isn't found. However, Josh's mother sees how much Josh loves Buddy and how loyal the dog is. When Josh wakes up on Christmas Day and Buddy is not in his room, he goes downstairs and sees Buddy with a bow secured on his head. She gives Buddy to Josh as a present.
Josh wants to join the basketball team but changes his mind at the last minute and becomes the water boy. After two slots are opened up and learning of Buddy's talent, Josh tries out (despite basketball coach Joe Barker's reluctance) and gets a place on the team. At his first game, Buddy leaves the backyard, goes to the school and shows up while the game is underway. He runs into the court disrupts the game and causes mayhem, but the audience loves him after he scored a basket. After the game and once the dog is caught by Josh, Buddy finds coach Barker abusing Tom, one of Josh's teammates and friend who gave him a lucky orange peel he got at a Seattle SuperSonics game, by trying to make him catch better by pelting him with basketballs. He leads Josh, his mom and the school principal Ms. Pepper to the scene. Barker is fired and replaced by the school's engineer, Arthur Chaney, who Josh discovers is a former New York Knicks player. Buddy becomes the mascot of Josh's school's basketball team and begins appearing in their halftime shows.
But just before the championship game, Buddy's former owner, Snively, after seeing Buddy on television, tricks his mom into believing he is the dog's owner. She reluctantly allows Sniveley to take Buddy away despite Josh's protests. Josh then enters Snively's backyard where he finds the dog chained in the filthy backyard. Snively initially can't see Josh due to a stack of empty beer cans on his windowsill until it falls and Josh is caught trying to rescue the dog. Josh gets the chain from Buddy and both escape. Snively gets into his dilapidated clown truck to chase Josh and Buddy through a public park which scatters residents. The chase rages on to a parking lot near a lake, during which the clown truck lands into the water. A few minutes after the chase, Josh then decides to set Buddy free in the forest to find someone else. Initially, his team is losing at the next championship until Buddy shows up. When it is discovered that there is no rule that a dog cannot play basketball, Buddy joins the roster to lead the team to a come from behind championship victory.
Snively reappears and attempts to sue the Framm family for custody of Buddy. Fortunately, at the suggestion of coach Chaney, who the judge was a fan of, it is decided that Buddy will choose who will be his rightful owner. During the calling, Snively takes out his roll of newspaper, which he often used as a punishment to hit Buddy, and shouts at him. Buddy charges at Snively, tearing up the weapon of abuse and runs towards Josh. The judge grants custody of the dog to Josh while Snively, who runs at Buddy and Josh in a last-ditched effort to get the dog back, is dragged away by the police and arrested, while Josh and the rest of the citizens rejoice and gather around Buddy to welcome him back.
- Air Buddy (credited as "Buddy the dog") as Himself
- Kevin Zegers as Josh Framm
- Michael Jeter as Norman F. "Norm" Snively
- Wendy Makkena as Mrs. Jackie Framm
- Bill Cobbs as Coach Arthur Chaney
- Eric Christmas as Judge Cranfield
- Jonas Fredrico as Julius Aster
- Nicola Cavendish as Principal Pepper
- Brendan Fletcher as Larry Willingham
- Norman Browning as Mr. Buck Willingham
- James Manley as Professor Plum
- Joeseph Lester as Father Cunningham
- Stephen E. Miller as Coach Joe Barker
- Shayn Solberg as Tom Stewart
- Jesebel Mather and Kati Mather as Andrea Framm
- Snazin Smith as Nurse (uncredited)
- Jolene Prystae as angry extra
Home video release
Air Bud was released to VHS on December 23, 1997 and to DVD on February 3, 1998 (with an open matte aspect ratio). It was released again on March 3, 2009 in a special edition DVD set, featuring commentary from B-Dawg, Budderball, Rosebud, Buddha, Mudbud, Molly, and Buddy himself and presents the film in its Original Theatrical Aspect Ratio.
The film received mixed reviews. It holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 43% based on 21 reviews.
Sequels and spin-offs
The film generated one theater-released sequel and many direct-to-video sequels and a spin-off film series. In each film, Buddy learns to play a different sport.
- Deming, Mark. "Air Bud". Allmovie. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- Go Buddy! The Air Bud Story, by Kevin di Cicco, Air Bud Publishing Group, 2012.
- Rotten Tomatoes - Air Bud
- Official website
- Air Bud at the Internet Movie Database
- Air Bud at Rotten Tomatoes
- Air Bud at AllMovie