'Air Bud' is simple fun

August 14, 1998|By Eleanor Ringel | Eleanor Ringel,COX NEWS SERVICE

Last year, a movie called "Air Bud" spotlighted Buddy, a golden retriever with a mean hoop shot. Unfortunately, that Buddy died of cancer. But if Batman can go from Michael Keaton to Val Kilmer to George Clooney, then why not "Air Bud: Golden Receiver," in which a quartet of adorable goldens sub for the original star?

This time, Buddy (mostly played by Rush and Zach) and his boy, Josh (Kevin Zegers), tackle a new sport: football. Josh has a natural arm, and Buddy is -- well, they don't call 'em retrievers for nothing.

Trouble arises on two fronts. Josh is jealous of his widowed mother's (Cynthia Stevenson) interest in the town's new veterinarian (Gregory Harrison). Meanwhile, Buddy is being eyed by two seedy circus owners (Nora Dunn and Perry Anzilotti, doing a Boris and Natasha routine) who kidnap talented animals.

When Buddy isn't around, the movie gets a little boring. After all, it's really just a glorified after-school special. But Buddy is on screen a lot. Though the script may be simple-minded, the movie handles its messages well -- that sports should be played for fun, not just to win, and that potential stepparents deserve a chance.

Old-timers Tim Conway and Dick Martin (of "Laugh-In" fame and, conveniently, the director's father) provide ready-made nostalgia as comic sports announcers.

'Air Bud: Golden Receiver'

Starring Kevin Zegers

Directed by Richard Martin

Released by Dimension Films

Rated G

Running time 1 hour, 31 minutes

Sun score ** 1/2

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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