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Air Bud
Special Edition

review by Zach B.



MPAA Rating: PG (For Brief Mild Language)

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Starring: Michael Jeter, Kevin Zegers, Wendy Makkena, Eric Christmas and Bill Cobbs

Written by: Paul Tamasy & Aaron Mendelsohn

Directed by: Charles Martin Smith


Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: Dog-U-Commentary with The Buddies, Theatrical Trailer 

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (16 Scenes)

Released: March 3rd, 2009



"Air Bud" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen - a first for the film, as I believe the last release on DVD was non-anamorphic. It's a decent transfer, but nothing overly outstanding. The overall image quality ranks on the soft side, not to mention there is noise, shimmering and edge halos. Scratches, dirt pieces and blemishes also pop up on the print. Fleshtones are pretty good, but at times look a bit too white. Color saturation is hit and miss, as some colors come off pretty rich and bold, while others look pretty drained. Detail for the most part is disappointing, namely in exterior scenes. Watchable, and it'll fill your widescreen set, but nothing here stands out. 


The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also decent, but unspectacular. The track is pretty front-centric for the most part. Sound effects do sound pretty crisp here, namely the running and action in the basketball games. Surround effects using the rears are more rare, but come alive in typical moments - i.e. crowds. Subwoofer use is okay and dynamic range is decent. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, while Brahn Wenger's musical score has a little zip and sounds overly broad through the channels. Suitable, if not immersive.
An English Dolby Surround track is also included, plus subtitles in English and Spanish.

Since Disney has had tremendous success spinning off "Air Bud" into a variety of Direct-to-DVD titles featuring the "Buddies" - the offspring of Buddy - this DVD features a clever way for fans of the Buddies titles to buy the film where it all began. With that said, this "special edition" features a Dog-U-Commentary featuring the Buddies, plus their parents. In some ways, it's kind-of a unique feature since not many commentaries out there are geared toward the youngest of children. Still, this commentary is for children only. The pups, Buddy and his wife make various comments on screen - based on their personalities - that the kids should find cute, and everyone else annoying. But the real surprise to this commentary is that "Buddy" gives some production anecdotes about the making of the movie, perhaps culled from a press release (better than nothing!). It's nothing terribly insightful, but the wee ones will learn about how Buddy moved on the basketball court, that the movie was shot in Vancouver, and other little factoids. I am not the recommended listener for this track, but for a kids commentary, it works.

Also included is the original Theatrical Trailer in full frame, plus a Buddy Dog Tag inside the package.

Pardon the cynicism, but this release really exists to cross-promote what "Air Bud" spun-off: the successful direct-to-DVD Buddies films. I suppose those not alive in 1997 can now see "the original Bud that started it all." For its intents, this is a decent enough release, as the movie looks and sounds suitable, and a commentary track that should be fun for the kids. Priced appropriately, this might be one to look into for the family if you have a few of those Buddies films. I wonder if re-releases of the numerous "Air Bud" sequels are next...