"Good as Gold"
One of the greatest, most family-friendly movie dogs of all time, Buddy, shows up for a return engagement to last year’s hit and MOVIEGUIDE Award-winner, AIR BUD. In that movie, Buddy and his owner, young Josh Framm, displayed their prowess on the basketball court. In the sequel, AIR BUD: GOLDEN RECEIVER, they demonstrate their talents on the football field.
In the beginning of the new movie, Josh, played again by 13-year-old Kevin Zegers, is sad because his widowed mom Jackie, played by appealing actress Cynthia Stevenson, is ready to start dating again. After a brief parade of losers and jerks who fail to light Mom’s fire, the young, good-looking (of course) and kind new vet in town, Dr. Patrick Sullivan, begins to sweep Mom off her feet. Peeved by their lovey-dovey attitudes and not yet ready to see his dead father replaced by another man, Josh joins the junior high football team to avoid seeing Mom and the vet in romantic bliss.
The football team is floundering, however. Josh overhears the school principal telling the lovable coach that, because the team is not earning its upkeep, the school will have to shut down the football program and fire him. Making matters worse, the team’s star quarterback injures himself. Josh, who has a great arm, takes his place, but disaster ensues until Josh’s golden retriever Buddy shows the rest of the team (he has already shown Josh) that he, Buddy, can be the best wide receiver they ever saw.
Josh and Buddy take the team to the day of the state finals. Regrettably, for our heroes, two bumbling animal trainers catch Buddy’s act on TV. They kidnap Buddy to be the star attraction in their Russian circus. As Josh ponders whether to run away to solve his problems with Mom’s romantic life, Buddy, the vet and the football coach help save the day.
AIR BUD: GOLDEN RECEIVER is more predictable than the first movie and not quite as entertaining, but it’s also a little bit more wholesome and just as heartwarming. For example, the villains in the sequel are not as dark and disturbing as the villain in the first movie. Also, the moral and emotional punch of the story is helped along by the strong, positive characters and talented acting by the principal performers, including the four canines who play Buddy. Gregory Harrison plays the vet with an intelligent warmth, as does Robert Costanzo in his role as the more gregarious coach. They have crucial parts to play in Josh’s growing maturity. Kevin Zegers is impressive too in the all-important role of Josh. As in the first movie, he delivers an honest, engaging portrayal. One of the highlights of the film is his final major scene with Costanzo’s coach character. That scene is as morally uplifting and as quietly dramatic a scene as you’re likely to find in family movies.
Many viewers, however, would probably like to see more of Josh’s mom instead of the animal trainers, whose Boris and Natasha routine needs a lot more work. At one point, Josh’s mom makes an important decision that affects Josh’s life, but the movie neglects to mine that plot point dramatically as much as it should. Director Richard Martin compensates for these deficiencies, though, by having his funny father, Dick Martin (of the famed Martin and Rowan comedy team that emceed the popular TV show LAUGH-IN) do a comic cameo bit with another talented comedian, Tim Conway.
There is one final thing that helps put AIR BUD: GOLDEN RECEIVER over the top: Kevin Zegers as Josh and the canine actors playing Buddy have a real chemistry and charisma together on screen. Their energy helps create high-quality family entertainment done in a popular filmmaking style.
(B, C, L, V, M) Biblical worldview promoting teamwork, family, self-sacrifice, kindness, & parents appreciating their children first; 1 mild borderline profanity of "Oh, God, Josh, what have you done?"; mild slapstick violence such as woman beats intruders on rear end with broom & hook picks up man & drops him on wood crates plus plenty of football action violence; and, miscellaneous immorality such as son interferes with widowed mother's kind, respectable boyfriend, boy peeks at vet's private papers & animal kidnapping.
One of the greatest movie dogs of all time, Buddy, shows up for a return engagement to last year's hit and MOVIEGUIDE Award-winner, AIR BUD. In that movie, Buddy and his owner, young Josh Framm, displayed their prowess on the basketball court. In the sequel, AIR BUD: GOLDEN RECEIVER, they demonstrate their talents on the football field. This time, Buddy has to outwit two bumbling animal trainers from a Russian circus and help Josh overcome his mixed feelings about a kind, young veterinarian who gains the affections of his widowed mother.
AIR BUD: GOLDEN RECEIVER is more predictable than the first movie, but it is also a little bit more wholesome and just as heartwarming. The emotional punch of the story is helped by strong characters and talented acting by the principal performers. Gregory Harrison plays the vet with an intelligent warmth, as does Robert Costanzo in his role as the more gregarious football coach. They have crucial parts to play in Josh's growing maturity. Kevin Zegers is impressive in the role of Josh. He and the canine actors have a real chemistry and charisma on screen. Their energy helps create high-quality family entertainment done in a popular filmmaking style.