Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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, 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 who's just moved to a new town and must learn to adapt after his father's death. Though he's depressed and lacks confidence early in the film, Josh learns responsibility and develops confidence as he takes care of Buddy and joins the school basketball team. Arthur is the new basketball coach for Josh's team; he actively encourages teamwork, unlike the previous coach, who only wanted to win at any cost.
The cast is almost all White, except for a Black supporting character, Arthur, who's Josh's coach. Arthur is positive but clichéd -- he's a former pro basketball player-turned-mentor who's two-dimensional and exists to support/teach White characters life lessons. But the film warmly portrays a single working mom who's caring and resilient.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
The main character is pushed around at school, taunted with nickname "water boy," and knocked down on the basketball court. Animal abuse is implied at the hands of Buddy's first owner, who yells at Buddy and calls him a "fleabag mongrel." A man recklessly drives a truck, crashing into signs and nearly running over two people before driving into a lake (no one gets injured). Buddy falls off the back of a truck while he's in a crate (he's unhurt). A coach uses aggressive tactics, yelling and throwing basketballs at a teen who looks scared. Sad scenes and crying as a boy abandons his dog for the dog's own good.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"Sucks," "hell," and "shut up." Taunts include "water boy" (accompanied by pushing around) and "dumb hooligan," and an abusive pet owner calls Buddy a "fleabag mongrel."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Characters eat SpaghettiOs in multiple scenes (branded cans visible) and wear a Nike hoodie. Captain Crunch cereal, cans of Pepsi, and Gatorade water coolers are visible. An important character was a former New York Knicks basketball player -- a branded T-shirt and collectible card appear in the film.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The villain drinks a beer while talking on the phone near a window that's stacked with beer cans.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Air Bud is the first film in a series that stars a basketball-playing golden retriever named Buddy. Though mostly lighthearted, the movie 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 -- but makes it clear that both are wrong, and the perpetrators are punished. One adult drinks beer. Language includes "sucks" and "hell," plus insults like "dumb hooligan" and, directed to Buddy, "fleabag mongrel." In terms of diversity, almost all characters are White except one key character of color, who's positive but falls into stereotypes as a Black basketball coach who's two-dimensional and exists only to teach life lessons to White characters. But Air Bud does have a strong example of a single mother/widow who works hard to take care of her kids. Other positive messages include the value of teamwork and the responsibility and care required to take care of a dog. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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, Air Bud teaches viewers 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 big final game, a car chase, and villains who are mean but in a comical, over-the-top way that can appeal to a broader age range. You can see why it spawned a franchise, and your kids may want to see them all. But be aware that none of the successors are nearly as good.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.