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Air Bud

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Air Bud Movie Poster Image
Sweet dog tale has some peril and mature themes.
  • PG
  • 1997
  • 98 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 14 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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 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

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

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.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Air Bud, though mostly lighthearted, does show a child dealing with his father's death. It also depicts abuse -- both 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. There's a little bit of drinking, as well as language along the lines of "sucks" and "hell." But the value of teamwork is stressed, as is the responsibility and care required to take care of a dog. That said, if you don't have a dog already, be prepared for your kids to want one.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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... Continue reading
Adult Written byjoshua martinez September 30, 2011

6 and up.

Air Bud is a great family and kids movie with a great positive message about loyalty, integrity, and caring.
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 littl... Continue reading
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... Continue reading

What's the story?

In AIR BUD, 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?

This movie 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the proper treatment of pets. Does Josh display responsibility in Air Bud when it comes to Buddy?

  • 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?

  • 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?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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