Air Bud

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Air Bud
A golden retriever wearing a basketball jersey and dunking a ball
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCharles Martin Smith
Written by
  • Paul Tamasy
  • Aaron Mendelsohn
Produced by
CinematographyMike Southon
Edited byAlison Grace
Music byBrahm Wenger
Distributed by
Release date
  • August 1, 1997 (1997-08-01)
Running time
98 minutes
  • United States
  • Canada
Budget$3 million
Box office$27.8 million[3]

Air Bud is a 1997 sports comedy film directed by Charles Martin Smith.[4] An international co-production of the United States and Canada, the film stars Kevin Zegers as a young boy who befriends a runaway Golden Retriever (portrayed by Air Buddy) with a unique ability to play basketball.

Air Bud received mixed reviews but was a commercial success, grossing $4 million in its opening weekend and totaling $27.8 million in its run against an estimated $3 million budget.[3] It was followed by a direct sequel, Air Bud: Golden Receiver, in 1998, and spawned a film franchise that includes the spin-off series Air Buddies.


After the death of his father, Josh Framm, his mother Jackie, and his two-year-old sister Andrea have relocated to Fernfield, Washington. One day after school, Josh practices basketball by himself in a makeshift court that he sets up behind an abandoned church, where he meets a runaway Golden Retriever that had just escaped from his abusive owner: a rude, grumpy, alcoholic party clown named Norm Snively. Discovering his uncanny ability to play basketball; Josh names him Buddy and takes him home. Jackie agrees to let Buddy stay until Christmas. Once the holidays arrive, Jackie allows Josh to keep Buddy as a Christmas present.

At school, Josh earns the disdain of star basketball player and team bully Larry Willingham but befriends kindhearted maintenance engineer and retired pro player Arthur Chaney. With Chaney's encouragement, Josh earns a place on the school basketball team, the Timberwolves, despite the reservation of their competitive coach, Joe Barker. He befriends teammate Tom Stewart at his first game. Buddy escapes and shows up at school during the game. The audience loves him when he scores a basket.

Barker is fired after being caught emotionally and physically abusing Tom for his poor performance and is replaced by Chaney at Josh's suggestion. Arthur emphasizes the need for players to work as a team instead of focusing on themselves. When Larry is subbed out due to ball-hogging and unsportsmanlike conduct, his father forces him to leave the team and join their rival. Buddy becomes the mascot of the school's basketball team and appears in their halftime shows. The Timberwolves lose one game before qualifying for the State Finals.

Just before the championship game, Snively appears after seeing Buddy on television. Hoping to profit from Buddy's newfound fame, he forces Jackie to hand over Buddy as he has papers proving he is the legal owner. Withdrawn and depressed, Josh sneaks into Snively's backyard and frees Buddy from his chain. Snively pursues them in his dilapidated pickup truck before crashing into a lake. Josh decides to protect Buddy by setting him free in the forest to find a new life.

The Timberwolves struggle at the championship game, and an injury leaves them with four players. Buddy shows up. After it is discovered that there is no rule preventing a dog from playing basketball, he is added to the roster and leads the team to victory.

Despite losing his papers in the car wreck, Snively attempts to sue the Framm family for custody of Buddy, and Chaney suggests that Buddy choose his owner. As a fan of Chaney himself, Judge Cranfield accepts his proposal and moves the court outside to the lawn. Buddy attacks Snively and chooses Josh. Cranfield grants custody to Josh as a ranting Snively is arrested and taken away by the police, while Josh and the rest of the citizens rejoice and gather around Buddy to welcome him home.



Air Bud was produced by the newly formed banner of Keystone Entertainment, Keystone Family.[5]

The film was originally planned to release through Miramax, but was instead moved as a Walt Disney Pictures release.[5]

Home media[edit]

Air Bud was released to VHS on December 23, 1997, and to DVD on February 3, 1998 (with an open matte aspect ratio).[6]

Mill Creek Entertainment released the film in a two-disc boxed set also containing other Air Bud films owned by Air Bud Entertainment on January 14, 2020.[7]

All five Air Bud films arrived on Disney+ on October 1, 2023.[8]


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 48% of 31 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The website's consensus reads: "Air Bud's wacky concept isn't entirely enough to fill a feature-length film, but this rather silly family-friendly outing is partly redeemed by its extremely charming title character."[6]

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Air Bud (1997)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "AFI|Catalog".
  3. ^ a b "Air Bud (1997) - Financial Information".
  4. ^ Deming, Mark. "Air Bud". Allmovie. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "KEYSTONE COPS PIC". Variety. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Air Bud (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  7. ^ "Air Bud Collection".
  8. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (September 29, 2023). "The Air Bud Movies Are Coming to Disney+ — Whether John Oliver Likes It or Not". TVLine. Retrieved September 29, 2023.
  9. ^ "Home - Cinemascore". Cinemascore. Retrieved 28 December 2019.

External links[edit]