Air Bud: Golden Receiver

SportsNora DunnKevin ZegersGregory HarrisonCynthia StevensonMichael Jeter

Friday August 14, 1998

     Last summer's screen fare was considerably brightened by a delightful family comedy called "Air Bud," in which a boy, who has just lost his father, befriends a golden retriever that turns out to be a terrific basketball star. Not surprisingly, the charm and success of this modest film has led to a sequel, "Air Bud: Golden Receiver," which unfortunately disappoints keenly.
     The problem is that it is much more retread than sequel. Instead of the basketball court, Air Bud now demonstrates his prowess on the football field, but with much less conviction. Instead of Michael Jeter's memorably nasty clown, Air Bud's cruel original owner, we've got a tiresome Nora Dunn playing a Russian animal circus impresario who wants to steal Air Bud and take him home to turn him into a star performer. Instead of Bill Cobb's wise basketball coach, we've got Robert Costanzo's equally wise football coach.
     Kevin Zegers returns as young Josh Framm, still grieving over the loss of his father. He actively tries to sabotage a budding romance between his mother (Cynthia Stevenson, replacing Wendy Makkena) and the new veterinarian in town (Gregory Harrison, very good). Even more disturbing than writers Paul Tamasy and Aaron Mendelsohn recycling old ideas from the first film is the way Josh's reaction to the vet is handled.
     The coach does try to help Josh move beyond grief but doesn't really discuss his mother's right to try to find happiness with another man. His mother is totally ineffectual and never considers seeking help for her son. She actually gives up her romance to please her son, with the vet reinstated in her life only after he proves to be a hero in crisis. This is scarcely a healthy message to send to young audiences, and, frankly, Josh comes across as more in the grip of an intense Oedipal phase rather than suffering lingering grief.
     Richard Martin directs energetically, but overall "Air Bud: Golden Receiver" is a washout.


Air Bud: Golden Receiver, 1998. G. A Dimension Films presentation in association with Keystone Pictures. Director Richard Martin. Producer Robert Vince. Executive producers Michael Strange, Anne Vince, William Vince. Screenplay by Paul Tamasy & Aaron Mendelsohn; based on the character "Air Bud" created by Kevin DiCicco. Cinematographer Mike Southon. Editors Bruce Lange and Melinda Seabrook. Costumes Patricia Hargreaves. Music Brahm Wenger. Production designer Rex Raglan. Art director Eric Norlin. Set decorator Grant Pearse. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Kevin Zegers as Josh Framm. Cynthia Stevenson as Jackie Framm. Gregory Harrison as Patrick Sullivan. Nora Dunn as Natalya.

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