Air Bud: Golden Receiver - *

Air Bud: Golden Receiver

In just a year since the original Air Bud hit the movie theaters, a sequel has hurriedly been made. This despite the fact that the titular star of the original died shortly after the premiere. But don’t let the hurried production fool you into thinking they may have had a great story idea on their hands. Air Bud: Golden Receiver is just as idealess as the original.

Apparently, Air Bud’s basketball-shooting trick isn’t such a difficult one after all. In under a year since the original Air Bud, a replacement dog has been found and trained to duplicate the original Buddy’s basketball shooting feat. In addition, this new Buddy is also able to catch a football…making him a two-trick puppy.

Air Bud’s pal Josh (Kevin Zegers) is back, and manages to make the basketball-to-football transition along with his pet pooch. But Josh also has some more family problems to deal with in this installment. His mother (now played by Cynthia Stevenson) has begun to date for the first time since the death of Josh’s dad. And even though she finds the perfect man (a vet, no less), played by Gregory Harrison, Josh still can’t conceive of anyone replacing his father.

And Buddy is in more trouble this time around (though in a completely ridiculous and completely unrelated subplot). In the original Air Bud, he was targeted by an evil clown. For the sequel, the baddies are Russian animal circus owner Natalya (Nora Dunn) and her inept sidekick Popov (Perry Anzilotti).

People (and children) who for some reason enjoyed the first Air Bud will find more of the same here. The rest of us will only find more tedium, more repetition, and more sheer annoyance.

The main problem with this film, as well as the original, is that it is completely based upon a dog trick. In this case, the dog trick isn’t all that unusual. You don’t see a basketball shooting dog every day, but ball-catching ones are a dime a dozen.

At least the family subplot in this one holds a bit more substance, if not any spontaneity. But the entire circus-plot should have been axed. Nora Dunn’s atrocious Russian accent is nearly enough to make you run screaming from the theater. Add in chimpanzee, skunk and llama hijinks and you’re definitely brewing up trouble. (What the heck is a skunk doing in an animal circus anyway?)

The only bright spot in the movie is the fact that the dog is cute, which may certainly be enough for children. However, there are plenty of better kids films out there than this one

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