Sunday, January 28, 2018

Air Buddies (2006), Snow Buddies (2008), and Space Buddies (2009)

Air Bud came out in 1997 and became a big part of my formative years.  I had just turned seven when it was released.  I was a fairly active child, running around, playing whatever sport I could, though I wasn’t necessarily good at any of them.  This movie about a boy befriending a basketball playing dog spoke to me.  It wasn’t because I was the boy.  I wasn’t.  It was the mixture of dogs, which I loved, and sport, which I enjoyed.  Those two elements were brought together in a movie, which I didn’t know was my true passion at the time, and it quickly became something I admired.

The franchise would continue through 2003 as Buddy the dog went through five different sports.  He started by playing basketball, then he tried his paw at football.  He continued through soccer, baseball, and volleyball.  I watched three of the five movies as a kid, yet somehow regarded the entire franchise as some sort of sacred ground.  I don’t agree with that assessment now, having watched the entire five movie franchise in preparation for this post, but I still think there’s something to them that made me, as a child, admire them.

When I was fifteen, I heard about a new Air Bud movie coming out called Air Buddies.  It would integrate Buddy’s puppies into the story.  The only catch was that now the dogs talked.  That set me off.  For some reason, I thought the entire series was some classic thing that hinged upon the animals not talking.  That was a constant in the franchise up to that point.  As I would soon learn, though, Air Buddies was the start of a new series, not the continuation of an old one.  The old continuity was there, to an extent, but the Buddies movies were a spin-off series.  I was quick to write them off because they were not what I thought the future of the Air Bud franchise should be.
After over ten years of shunning the Buddies movies, I finally decided to give them a chance.  Before I get into that, though, I should let you know which ones I watched and what they were about.  The Air Buddies movies began with Air Buddies in 2006.  In 2008, a sequel was released called Snow Buddies.  The year after that, Space Buddies was released.  Those were the three Buddies movies I watched.  The first three of nine movies.  Yes, there were nine movies produced in the Air Buddies spin-off series, with two of them actually being a spin-off of Santa Buddies, a 2009 release that I didn’t get to.

Air Buddies followed a new litter of five puppies.  Each of them had something in their name pointing to the word “bud.”  Rosebud was the only female puppy.  Mudbud was a puppy who liked being dirty.  Buddha was a calm, zen puppy.  Budderball was the strong, overweight puppy.  Then there was B-Dawg (the B standing for “Bud”), the cool puppy.  There was a boy who wanted Buddy for his new pet and the puppies had to save Buddy and Molly from their dognapping.

Snow Buddies followed that up by having the puppies accidentally shipped to Alaska aboard an ice cream delivery.  They met a husky puppy named Shasta who was trying to help his boy become a dogsledder.  The puppies came together to make a great sledding team that would compete in the local dogsledding competition.

In Space Buddies, the puppies went to space.  They had to overcome sabotage to get their space shuttle back to Earth.  Along the way, they met a Russian cosmonaut dog and helped him return to Earth to meet up with the boy who owned him.
The three movies were a change from what the Air Bud movies had been.  Air Bud from the first through Spikes Back was about a dog playing sports to help a kid find his or her place in their world.  At the same time, there were people trying to take the dogs away from them.  Whether it was the clown played by Michael Jeter in the first or the bumbling jewel thieves in Spikes Back, people kept trying to take Buddy away from the Framms.  The Buddies movies weren’t about that stuff.  They were about the sibling puppies coming together to find their way home.  Sure, Snow Buddies still had the child finding their way through sport storyline, but the movies became about reuniting at home.  They were about family being together, even though they might be apart.  It was a different overall theme.

This was a theme that I appreciated.  The Air Buddies movies weren’t trying to tell the same story as the Air Bud movies, but with talking animals.  They were setting themselves apart by focusing on different ideals.  They were about the importance of family.  That’s where their strengths lay and that’s why I felt bad for having written them off for so many years.

The idea that we write off movies because we think they will be terrible is something that I’ve been advocating for not doing.  I still end up falling into that trap sometimes, as I did with the Buddies films.  However, one of the main inspirations for the Sunday “Bad” Movies blog is to find something good in everything.  These posts are all about using the movies that people write off to discuss themes that encompass all movies.  And if I find something I enjoy while checking out the bad movies for the blog, so be it.
Sometimes, even with the Sunday “Bad” Movies, I need to remind myself not to write off movies.  Air Buddies wasn’t the first instance of my going into a movie thinking that it shouldn’t have been made and coming out thinking it was pretty good.  That happened with The Marine 2.  It happened with God’s Not Dead 2.  Those two, specifically, were instances where I watched the first movie in a franchise and thought it was a mess that didn’t know where the story should have been.  Then I saw the sequels.  Both The Marine 2 and God’s Not Dead 2 took what was good about their predecessors and got rid of most of the unnecessary elements that brought them down.  They were steps in the right direction, turning disappointing franchise starters into interesting franchises.

That elimination of the irritating, weaker aspects was apparent in Snow Buddies as well.  As I’ve already said in this post, many of the movies in the Air Bud franchise involved people trying to steal Buddy, the sports dog.  Even Air Buddies had that storyline.  Snow Buddies got rid of it.  Nobody tried to steal anything.  Instead, the bad guy was the rival in the dogsledding competition.  It streamlined the story and let the focus be on family and working together.  The whole movie benefitted from that, making it one of the better entries in the whole Air Bud franchise.

Certain filmmakers also get reputations where people begin to write off their work.  From experience, I wrote off Friedberg/Seltzer after a series of terrible spoof films where the jokes were based solely on recognition and not on anything actually funny.  But then they showed they could try with their original movie Best Night Ever, and tried with their spoof Superfast!.  The same could be said for Uwe Boll.  Though I enjoyed House of the Dead, the movies I had seen from him hadn’t given me any reason to think he could make a good movie.  I wrote him off.  Then I saw the potential he had with a big budget in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.  The guy made an entertaining action/adventure movie.  It was still kind of messy, but showed that he could put together a half decent film if given the resources.

The most notable written off filmmaker, though, and one that was written off by almost everybody was M. Night Shyamalan.  He came to prominence with the one-two punch of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.  By the time The Happening came out, people were wary.  Then he released The Last Airbender and everyone was completely against him.  It would take until the release of Split in 2017 for people to come back on board.  Now he’s respected all over again and people are anticipating Glass.  People had written his work off.  They were pleasantly surprised when they enjoyed Split.
Writing off a movie, a franchise, or a person’s work can lead to you missing something you might enjoy.  People who write off remakes are missing some of the best movies out there.  The Thing, The Fly, Ocean’s Eleven, A Fistful of Dollars, The Magnificent Seven… Even The Wizard of Oz and The Maltese Falcon.  All of those movies are great remakes.  No matter what you write off for whatever reasons, there could be something great in there.

And yes, there are reasons to write things off that I would be like “Yeah, makes sense.”  I’m not going to say that people shouldn’t write off James Toback’s work after finding out what he did.  That’s a respectable reason to not want to watch something.  All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t write off movies for reasons like I’ve written them off.  It was petty of me to not want to watch Air Buddies because it was different from Air Bud.  I’d be more bored if it was exactly the same as Air Bud but with puppies instead of Buddy.  At least they tried something new.  That something worked, too.

Watching through the first three Buddies movies gave me a respect for movies I had been ignoring because of petty reasons.  They’re not great movies by any stretch of the imagination, and they shouldn’t be ignored because of that.  They have earned their place in the world of cinema.  It might not be a big place.  It might not be an important place.  It’s a place all the same.  I was too quick to write them off, that I forgot that they have their place.
These notes have a place, and it is right here:

  • I mentioned a few movies I’ve seen in this post.  They were The Happening (week 185), House of the Dead (week 59), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (week 220), The Marine (week 30), God’s Not Dead (week 230), and Superfast! (week 229).
  • Air Buddies, Snow Buddies, and Space Buddies were all directed by Robert Vince.
  • With his appearances in Snow Buddies and Space Buddies, Mike Dopud has now been in six Sunday “Bad” Movies.  The other four that he was in were Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (week 33), Skin Trade (week 146), Alone in the Dark (week 152), and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (week 220).
  • Michael Clarke Duncan returned to the Sunday “Bad” Movies with a voice performance in Air Buddies.  He was previously featured in A Crush on You (week 51), D.E.B.S. (week 111), and Delgo (week 148).
  • Did you notice Wallace Shawn’s voice in Air Buddies?  He was also in Furry Vengeance (week 162) and Mom and Dad Save the World (week 186).
  • John Tench also made his third Sunday “Bad” Movies appearance in Air Buddies.  He had already been included in Repeaters (week 62) and In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (week 220).  Yay for movies filmed in Canada.
  • One surprise in Snow Buddies was a voice performance by Whoopi Goldberg, who was in Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (week 50) and Theodore Rex (week 223).
  • Lochlyn Munro showed up in Space Buddies with the awesome character name of Slats Bentley.  He’s a third-timer here, having been in Hansel and Gretel Get Baked (week 38) as well as In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (week 220).
  • Tom Everett Scott was in Air Buddies and Snow Buddies, but that wasn’t his first time in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  He was in Parental Guidance (week 27) way back in the first year.
  • Michael Teigen played Deputy Dan in Snow Buddies and Space Buddies.  He had shown up once before in the Sunday “Bad” Movies in, you guessed it, In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (week 220).
  • Three actors appeared in Air Buddies, Snow Buddies, and Space Buddies.  They were Josh Flitter, Skyler Gisondo, and Gig Morton.
  • Abigail Breslin voiced Rosebud in Air Buddies.  She was already in the Sunday “Bad” Movies when I covered New Year’s Eve (week 57).
  • Jake D. Smith was also in Air Buddies.  He was in Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (week 50).
  • Snow Buddies was the second appearance of Charles C. Stevenson Jr., who had shown up in Jack Frost (week 54).
  • Anthony Harrison of the film Blackwoods (week 115) was in Snow Buddies.
  • Malcolm Scott became a Sunday “Bad” Movies two-timer with Snow Buddies.  He was in Alone in the Dark (week 152).
  • Jingle All the Way 2 (week 160) featured Nicholas Harrison, who returned this week for Snow Buddies.
  • Jimmy Bennett was in Snow Buddies for a little bit.  He was also in Movie 43 (week 243).
  • Dylan Minnette made one of his first acting appearances in Snow Buddies as Noah Framm.  He would go on to be in Fred Claus (week 265).
  • Ali Hillis returned to the Sunday “Bad” Movies with Space Buddies, after being in Beverly Hills Chihuahua (week 70).
  • Eleven actors showed up in Air Buddies and Snow Buddies without being in any other Sunday “Bad” Movies.  They were Kelly Chapek, Jarvis Dashkewytch, Tyler Foden, Richard Karn, Dominic Scott Kay, Stuart Malinowski, Christian Pikes, Paul Rae, Molly Shannon, Cynthia Stevenson, and Cainan Wiebe.
  • Ellen Kennedy was in both Air Buddies and Space Buddies.
  • Finally, there were three actors that came into the Sunday “Bad” Movies in Snow Buddies and stayed on for Space Buddies.  They were Henry Hodges, Taku Kawai, and Liliana Mumy.
  • Have you seen any of the Buddies movies?  Have you ever written a movie off only to visit it later and realize you liked it?  Share your thoughts in the comments or let me know on Twitter.
  • Twitter and the comments are both good places to suggest movies to me.  I’m always trying to build up my list of possible movies to watch for the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  Let me know any you find.
  • Snapchat is a place where you can find me if you want to see clips of bad movies, or other random things.  Add me (jurassicgriffin) if you feel like it.
  • Now that I’m done with the Buddies, for now, I’m going to be returning to another franchise that has been in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  I’ll be checking out Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong, the third in the series that included Evil Bong (week 52) and Evil Bong 2: King Bong (week 104).  Come back next time so see what I have to say about this one.

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