Air Bud Movie Poster Image

Air Bud



Sweet dog tale has some peril and mature themes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

On the basketball court, teamwork is upheld as a positive virtue by the new coach, in contrast with the old coach's philosophy of winning at all costs. The responsibility and care required to take care of a dog is shown in the film, contrasted by the mistreatment Buddy suffers at the hands of his first owner, who exploits him for economic gain and doesn't give him much love or affection.

Positive role models

Josh is a tween boy who has just moved to a new town and must learn to adapt after the untimely death of his father. Although he's depressed and lacking in confidence early in the film, he learns responsibility and develops confidence as he takes care of his newly found dog Buddy and joins the school basketball team. Arthur Chaney is the new basketball coach for Josh's team; he teaches and actively encourages teamwork, in marked contrast to the previous coach who only wanted to win at any cost.

Violence & scariness

The lead tween boy is knocked down on the basketball court by a bully. Animal abuse is implied at the hands of Buddy's first owner. A man recklessly drives a truck in pursuit of his dog, crashing into signs and nearly running over two people enjoying a picnic in the park. Early in the film, Buddy falls off the back of a truck while he's in a crate.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

"Sucks," "hell." The lead tween boy in the film is nicknamed "Waterboy" by a taunting bully.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The antagonist is shown drinking a beer while talking on the phone near a window that is half-filled with stacked beer cans.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Air Bud, though mostly lighthearted, does depict a child dealing with the death of his father. It also depicts abuse -- animal abuse and the physical abuse of a boy by his coach -- although it makes it clear that both are wrong, and both perpetrators are punished. If you don't have a dog already, be aware that kids may be inspired by this film to bring home stray dogs and try to teach them to play basketball.

What's the story?

After being abandoned by his comically mean clown owner (Michael Jeter), playful golden retriever Buddy meets Josh (Kevin Zegers), a depressed 12-year-old whose father has just died and whose mother has just relocated the family to a new town. The town holds all sorts of secrets for a curious kid: a basketball court hidden behind overgrown vines and the dilapidated fence of an abandoned church, a basketball legend lurking behind the calm exterior of a school janitor, and, most important, a rare and talented dog who can make baskets. Buddy is talented at a lot of things, but his most important talent is that he draws Josh out of his shell. The two form a fast friendship, and when Buddy makes a basket at one of Josh's games, he becomes the team's mascot. All is well until Buddy's mean owner finds out about Buddy's talent and comes to claim him. Then Josh must decide whether to let Buddy go or try to save him from abuse.

Is it any good?


AIR BUD aims straight for the heart, with its infectious mix of drama, silly villains, impish doggy antics, and adventure. All along, viewers are learning something about responsibility, loyalty, and love. Far from being alienated, having Buddy's love gives Josh a family again. He's happy, his mother is happy, and Josh even gains a mentor and father figure in the form of Coach Arthur Chaney (Bill Cobbs).

Air Bud has it all: a fluffy golden retriever, a basketball final game, a car chase, and mean but comically non-threatening villains. You can see why it spawned a series of videos, and your little one may want to see them all. Be aware that none of the successors is nearly as good.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the proper treatment of pets. Does Josh display responsibility when it comes to Buddy? What are signs of abuse, and what should you do if you discover them? How would you react if you saw adults doing things wrong?

  • How is teamwork shown and promoted as a positive value on the basketball court?

  • How is this film similar to and different from other dog movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 1, 1997
DVD/Streaming release date:January 6, 1998
Cast:Kevin Zegers, Michael Jeter, Wendy Makkena
Director:Charles Martin Smith
Studio:Buena Vista
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Great boy role models, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:brief mild language.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old January 27, 2010

Perfect kid movie

This is a great dog/sports movie. The only mildly violent scene is where a boy is repeatedly pelted with basketballs, thrown hard by the coach. There is a little bit of mild language, but otherwise this is a great movie suitable for kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe October 6, 2010
The first and best of the series! Super cute family film, the dog who plays Buddy is just adorable. :) There's nothing too scary or too sexual at all, some very mild language. Great plot, fine acting.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bybig_sister April 9, 2008

such a good movie

i havent seen this 1 in a while, but i used to watch it all the time when i was younger and i really enjoyed it!!! parents, anyone can watch this movie, theres no sex, no violence, no anything!!