It's truly rare that you see this level of insightful childhood psychoanalysis in a film about a basketball-playing dog.
Sooner or later the CIA is going to uncover Walt Disney's secret camp in the dark recesses of the African jungle where unsmiling Disney executives armed with cattle prods are trying to teach hamsters how to play golf and cats how to synchronize-swim. What other possible explanation could there be for their annual discovery of some hideously mutated animal that can kick field goals with its hind legs or shoot soccer balls from its ass?
The potential ASPCA boycott notwithstanding, this film actually made me feel good about myself. I mean, imagine if you lived in a town like the one in "Air Bud," where elementary school basketball was the foundation of your cultural universe. If that isn't the recipe for a Dramamine cocktail I don't know what is.
I was also overwhelmed by some of the film's more touching moments. When young Josh Framm (Kevin Zegers) cleans up a basketball court behind an old church, he knocks down a fence to reveal a huge lake and a mountain range, which prompts a "wow." Apparently he missed this whole scenery thing on his way over the pass. Later Josh botches a key shot, losing the basketball game and prompting this explanation: "I thought if I made the shot, the guys would accept me." It's truly rare that you see this level of insightful childhood psychoanalysis in a film about a basketball-playing dog.
Finally, I was particularly touched during the scene in which Josh leaves Buddy the Dog to die in the wilderness because he doesn't want Buddy's old owner, Norm (Michael Jeter) to find him. There's nothing like a young kid abandoning a helpless animal to really give me those warm Disney fuzzies.
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