Movies require a certain suspension of disbelief in order to work. For example, in Star Wars, we have to suspend our disbelief that something known as “The Force” could exist and work. The suspension of disbelief is based on a concept of creating an alternate universe where something is possible that isn’t possible in our own universe. However, that universe has to be based on a set of rules to govern it. When it comes to “The Force” in Star Wars, there are a set of guidelines where the force does and doesn’t work. The movie Air Bud (VHS boxart pictured to the right) does not work because there are no rules governing our suspension of disbelief. This is a movie that exists in chaos.
Now, I’ll tell you right here that my problem with this movie has nothing at all to do with a dog who is able to play basketball. I get that and believe it. That is a-okay with me. He was in the circus or something, and he learned some tricks. Works for me. No, I have three problems with the movie that never get addressed. 1. Why is the dog allowed to play basketball for a middle school team in the first place? 2. Why is it that opposing coaches never figure out a way to defend a dog? 3. How is it that the boy (Josh Framm… played by Kevin Zegers… who was also in such movies an Transamerica, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Dawn of the Dead) doesn’t get any credit for his basketball skills until he makes some game winning shot at the end?
For the first question, I am sure you are yelling some shit at me right now like, “Remember that part where the ref says, ‘There’s no rule that says a dog can’t play basketball’!??!?! GOTCHA!” Well, that is true. They said that there was no rule that says a dog can’t play basketball. And I absolutely believe that. However, anyone who has ever played a school sport knows that there are certain rules that decide one’s sport eligibility, and the movie never ever addresses THAT.
Here are some things “Air Bud” would have to do in order to be able to play in an organized middle school basketball game:
1. He would have to actually be enrolled in the middle school. That’s a big thing. You can’t play for a middle school team if you don’t go to that middle school.
2. In order to even enroll in that middle school, he would have to complete the preceding grades. You may remember from your own schooling that in order to get to the next grade, you had to pass the grade before it. I am sure “Air Bud” could take some kind of test to test out of these grades, but he would have to show that he is far enough along in his schooling to be able to take these middle school classes.
3. After enrolling in the middle school, “Air Bud” would then need to maintain a minimum GPA level. I think it’s something really easy like a 2.5 or some shit. However, that may be difficult to manage if you are a dog.
At no point in the movie did they ever address how “Air Bud” enrolled in the school and took classes. He became the team’s mascot, and then they put him in games. How is he allowed to play basketball for a school he doesn’t even go to? How did opposing coaches never bring this up? Is everyone really that stupid? “Hey! A dog can’t play basketball!” “No rule that says a dog can’t play basketball!” “Oh, okay then… I’m not even going to question this dog’s school transcripts or GPA. Let’s get on with this game, guys!”
There are also rules that dictate how the game of basketball is actually played, and “Air Bud” breaks a lot of them. Just look at the trailer clip a few paragraphs up for a good example of this… The dog is at the free throw line, and one ref looks to the other and says, “What the fuck do I do now?” The other ref says, “Just throw it to him!” (by the way, the trailer clip just shows them throwing the ball to him, but the rest of the clip is contained in the ending) What???? They are changing the rules so a dog can make free throws? No. You hand the dog the ball, and if he can make free throws, then he can make them. If he can’t make free throws, then he gives up his right to try to make free throws. Throw him the ball? If a basketball player in the NBA said, “Hey ref, I can’t use my hands anymore… Can you just throw the ball at my face, and I’ll try to hit it into the hoop with my nose?” the ref would tell that player to fuck off. If this dog can’t play by the rules of basketball, then he shouldn’t be able to play at all.
For my second point… how are teams having trouble guarding a dog? I can understand if every shot he made came on a fast break, but “Air Bud” is scoring in half-court sets! How about this? He’s three feet shorter than you, kids… Fucking stuff him. Did anyone try to block a shot? Nobody could ever tell me that it wouldn’t be hard to block a shot from a dog. Either he’s taking twenty footers or he’s going for layups at the rim. Either way, block him.
Or how about you look where this Josh kid is throwing the ball and steal it every fucking time? He throws the dog all low, soft lobs. Anybody with working hands and arms could just pick the ball out of the air on every pass. It’s not hard. Just catch the ball when he throws it to the dog. It’s way easier than stealing a normal pass, it really is.
For that matter, this dog isn’t even doing anything spectacular. People do realize he can’t create his own shot, right? How is he unguardable? “Air Bud” is basically a three-and-D guy… Only with completely overrated D. I know they show him stealing lazy passes out of the air with no trouble, but he’s a complete liability when he doesn’t steal the ball. Literally anyone could shoot right over him! He’s one of those guys with good defensive stats, but when you actually see him play, you realize he’s not that good. I also seriously doubt his ability to play within a team defense.
Lastly, how is that Josh kid not getting any credit at all as a basketball player until he makes a game winning shot? How about the fact that he ran a run-and-gun offense as well as Steve Nash? Just because this kid averaged like 15 assists a game and zero points, he sucks? Josh is the second coming of Jason Kidd in this movie, and everyone pretends he sucks. HE IS THROWING PERFECT (although, easy to steal) passes to a dog! Do you know how hard that is? Why is everyone pretending as if he can’t play at all? I AM THE ONLY SANE PERSON TO EVER EXIST!
I have to say I cannot recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of basketball. The plot just makes no sense. There is absolutely no way any of this shit would happen. The dog wouldn’t be allowed to play basketball. He’d be a role player at best…. PLUS THE KID IS A REALLY GOOD BASKETBALL PLAYER! I refuse to live in a world where people pretend this shit makes sense. It just doesn’t.