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Air Bud facts for kids

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For the film series, see Air Bud (series).
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Air Bud
Air bud poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Produced by Robert Vince
William Vince
Written by Paul Tamasy
Aaron Mendelsohn
Starring
Music by Brahm Wenger
Cinematography Mike Southon
Editing by Alison Grace
Studio
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (United States)
Malofilm (Canada)
Release date(s) August 1, 1997
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Canada
Language English
Budget $3 million
Money made $27.8 million

Air Bud is a 1997 sports comedy film directed by Charles Martin Smith. It sparked the franchise centered on the real-life dog Air Buddy, a cross-bred Golden Retriever, who shoots basketball hoops and appears as Buddy. The film was financially successful, grossing $4 million in its opening weekend and totaling $27.8 million in its run against an estimated $3 million budget.

Plot

Norm Snively, an alcoholic clown, and his Golden Retriever, Old Blue, are doing a show at a child's birthday party. After Old Blue causes trouble at the party, Snively angrily takes him in a kennel to a dog pound, until the kennel falls out of his truck. Old Blue is homeless until he meets 12-year-old Josh Framm. After the death of his father, a pilot who died in a plane crash during a test flight, Josh has relocated with his mom Jackie and 2-year-old sister Andrea from Virginia to Fernfield, Washington. Due to heartbreak over his father's death, he is too shy to try out for his middle school's basketball team and to make any friends. He instead becomes the basketball team's equipment manager, an awkward offer by Coach Barker which he accepts. He practices basketball by himself in a makeshift court that he sets up in an abandoned allotment, where he meets Old Blue and renames him Buddy. Josh soon discovers that Buddy has the uncanny ability to play basketball, and decides to let Buddy come home with him.

Jackie agrees to let him keep Buddy until Christmas and she plans to send him to the pound if his rightful owner is not located; however, she sees how loyal Buddy is and how much Josh loves him. On Christmas, Jackie lets Josh keep Buddy as a present.

Following Christmas, Josh finds a tryout invitation in his locker and further realizes Buddy's talent when he discovers that he can actually shoot a hoop. These facts together prompt Josh to try out, and he gets a place on the team. At his first game, he befriends teammate Tom Stewart but earns the disdain of star player and team bully Larry Willingham. Meanwhile, Buddy leaves the backyard, goes to the school and shows up while the game is underway. He runs into the court, disrupts the game, and causes mayhem, but the audience loves him after he scores a basket.

Buddy is caught by Josh after the game. The dog then sees Coach Barker abusing Tom by violently pelting him with basketballs in an attempt to make him catch better. He leads Josh, Jackie, and the school principal Ms. Pepper to the scene. As a result, Coach Barker is fired and replaced by the school's kind-hearted engineer, Arthur Chaney, at Josh's suggestion. Buddy becomes the mascot of the school's basketball team and begins appearing in their halftime shows. After the Timberwolves lose one game, the team has subsequent success and qualifies for the State Final.

Just before the championship game, Snively appears after seeing Buddy on television. Hoping to profit off Buddy's newfound fame, he forces Jackie to hand over Buddy as he has papers proving that he is Buddy's legal owner. Knowing they do not have a choice, Jackie forces Josh to do the right thing and give Buddy back to Snively. After a period of feeling withdrawn and depressed, Josh decides to rescue Buddy. He sneaks into Snively's backyard and finds Buddy chained up. Snively catches Josh escaping with Buddy, and pursues them in his dilapidated pickup truck before crashing into a lake. Josh then decides to set Buddy free in the forest to find a new home. Initially, his team is losing at the next championship to the opposing team until Buddy shows up. When it is discovered that there is no rule that a dog could not play basketball, Buddy joins the roster to lead the team to a come from behind championship victory.

Despite losing his paperwork, Snively attempts to sue the Framm family for custody of Buddy. Upon seeing Buddy, Judge Cranfield is disgusted and initially reluctant on a case over a dog but agrees only under a strict condition that the case be executed seriously. After numerous protests, Chaney arrives and suggests that Buddy chooses his owner. As a fan of Chaney himself, Cranfield accepts his proposal and moves the court outside to the lawn. Buddy attacks Snively when he pulls out a rolled-up newspaper, which he previously threatened Buddy with, and chooses Josh. Cranfield orders that Snively be arrested for animal cruelty, while Josh and the rest of the citizens rejoice and gather around Buddy to welcome him home.

Cast

  • Air Buddy as Buddy
  • Michael Jeter as Norm Snively
  • Kevin Zegers as Josh Framm
  • Wendy Makkena as Jackie Framm
  • Bill Cobbs as Coach Arthur Chaney
  • Eric Christmas as Judge Cranfield
  • Nicola Cavendish as Principal Pepper
  • Brendan Fletcher as Larry Willingham
  • Norman Browning as Buck Willingham
  • Stephen E. Miller as Coach Joe Barker
  • Shayn Solberg as Tom Stewart
  • Jessibelle Mather and Kati Mather as Andrea Framm

Sequels and spin-offs

The film was followed by one theatrical sequel, three direct-to-video sequels and a spin-off film series. In each film, Buddy learns to play a different sport while the spin-offs focus on Buddy's children, the Buddies.

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