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Featured DVD Review: Air Bud: World Pup

June 15th, 2010

Air Bud: World Pup - Buy from Amazon

For the third film in the Air Bud franchise, Air Bud: World Pup, they concentrated on the sport of soccer. It's a very timely release, as the World Cup is going on right now. For those who haven't had a chance to watch the World Cup on TV, I'll give you a brief summary: BBBZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!! Those vuvuzelas are going to haunt my nightmares for years to come.

The film starts with the wedding between Jackie Framm and Dr. Patrick Sullivan, both played by new actors. Buddy saves the day when Josh forgets the ring. We also meet the other Framm sibling, Andrea, who is also played by a new actor. I guess when you go direct-to-DVD, there's bound to be some changes in the cast.

While at Andrea's soccer practice we meet Emma Putter, a new girl from England who is there to help coach Andrea's team. There is an instant attraction between Emma and Josh. This attraction is mirrored by Buddy and a new dog, Molly, who he meets while retrieving the ring for the wedding. (This dog turns out to be owned by Emma. Plot twist!) Josh gets his chance to get close to Emma when he's roped into joining the school's soccer team. (They need more players just to meet the minimum requirements.) Fortunately, while the team is filled with misfits, Buddy is a master at soccer, just as he is at football and basketball. But the road to the championship is a complicated one, especially after Buddy becomes a father and his pups are the target of puppynappers. Will they be able to save the puppies in time to get Buddy to the game to score the last-second winning goal?

If you've seen the previous two movies, you can probably guess the answer to that. In fact, if you haven't seen the previous two movies, you can probably guess the answer to that. Again, as it has been throughout the rest of the series, predictability is an issue. That said, this is arguably a better movie than Golden Receiver, for a number of reasons. Firstly, a dog playing soccer just works better than a dog playing football, as it's more realistic and it frankly looks better. Also, the awkward teenage romance between Josh and Emma is handled well. Finally, there are some cute scenes, like when Andrea and her friend, Tammy, get camouflaged to try and track Buddy, who has been sneaking out for reasons that were unknown to them at that time.

Overall, the weaknesses that were present in the franchise from the start are still here, especially the predictability, but they are not as pronounced as the last film. The villains are ineffectual, but not cartoonishly annoying, so that's a step in the right direction. Also, there are some strengths here as well, including character actor Miguel Sandoval, who plays the team's coach. Having many members of the U.S. Women's World Cup team participate in the making of the movie is also a selling point for fans of the sport. I wouldn't call it a good movie, but it is an improvement over the previous installment. Acceptable entertainment for its target audience.

Extras on the Special Edition DVD start with Buddies Sports Channel making its return. This is basically a 5-minute recap of the movie by the Buddies, which will either be a hit with fans of the latter installments of the franchise, or something that will drive you nuts. There is also a 5-minute making of featurette, which is a little fluffy, but not nearly as painful to watch. The DVD also with a cinch bag, for fans of physical extras.

The Verdict

Air Bud: World Pup was the third film in the Air Bud franchise, but the first to go direct-to-DVD. This change in release strategy is not surprising when you look at the massive drop-off in box office revenue from the first film to the second. There was a drop in quality from the first film to the second, but this decline wasn't continued in the third film and it is closer in quality to the first than the second. If you or your kids liked Air Bud, then this DVD is worth checking out.

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