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Air Bud (Special Edition) - family and children's DVD / Disney DVD review
Rated PG by the MPAA curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Michael Jeter, Kevin Zegers, Wendy Makkena, Bill Cobbs, Eric Christmas
Director: Charles Martin Smith   Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD release: 03 March 2009   Runtime: 98 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
DVD features: Aspect ration 1.85:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, Spanish), Subtitles (English for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish), Dog-U-Commentary w/ the Buddies, Original theatrical trailer

Air Bud is on the surface a movie about a golden retriever who has the uncanny ability to shoot baskets. He needs the ball to be set up, but once there, he can pop it up into the basket with apparent ease.

Lurking beneath that hook is a film about a boy who's had a tough time with his father's death and moving to a new town, and how a dog helps him come out of his shell. Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers) used to play basketball with his father and truly loves the game.

Buddy is a nameless dog to begin with, doing tricks for a bad children's party clown named Happy Slappy. <shudder> Norm Snively (the late, great Michael Jeter) plays the cruel clown who threatens his dog, only referring to him as "mutt" or "hound". Snively's broken-down pickup truck has the head of a stern-looking clown affixed to the top (perhaps used to clear all the joy from his path). The children can smell the flop sweat coming off Snively and offer him no quarter. None of his bumbling, poor juggling or card tricks get a single chuckle.

Once the dog gets into the act catching balls in his mouth, the kids came to life, though it's not enough to save the act. Snively is kicked out with out even a good referral. He decides he's going to take the dog to the pound and be rid of him for good. The dog never makes it to the pound as his kennel falls off the back of Snively's truck. The poor dog is left to fend for himself still dressed in a clown suit.

Eventually Josh and the dog cross paths and take a liking to one another, their mutual love of basketball sparking the friendship. It's a movie about a boy and his dog. What's not to like?

Air Bud is a feel-good film showing the positive effect that pets can have on a kid. There's something for the whole family here, and if you're willing to suspend some disbelief, you'll take a liking to the film.

Extras are lacking in this special edition as they include only the original theatrical trailer and commentary from the whole Air Bud family. Still, the commentary is actually interesting and informative while keeping it light. Buddy and Molly and children Rosebud, Bud-dha, Mudbud, B-Dawg, and Budderball all contribute their perspective. The pups, familiar to audiences from the Air Buddies spin-offs, provide light commentary and comment in a style consistent with their personalities. Buddy provides some more technical info such as filming locations, props to actors in the film, and on-set anecdotes.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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