If you want an idea of how much I’ve given up on life heading into today’s fifth and final installment of the Air Bud franchise for 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days, I was watching the opening credits of Air Bud: Spikes Back to see which actors had stuck around from the previous installment and I just lost it when I saw that Dr. Sullivan is now played by a guy named Alf Humphreys. That’s not even really that funny, but it is to my now-rotten brain.
Anyway, we’ve finally come to the end of this unrealistic and mostly preposterous dogs-playing-sports franchise – not counting the Air Buddies spinoffs that I wouldn’t watch with your eyes – so let’s just finish ripping this Band-Aid off, shall we?
So What The Hell Is This Dog Doing Now?
You mean aside from running around Fartdale without a damn collar on? Probably trying to figure out what happened to his family. For starters, Mrs. Framm and Andrea Framm are now the Sullivans. I assume that’s why Josh Framm (the suffering Kevin Zeger) has completely vanished from this film, because he can’t believe that his mother and sister would just pretend that their deceased test pilot patriarch never existed. But Mrs. Sullivan is the only main character that still looks familiar, because everyone else is gone or different. In fact, Buddy might as well be a poodle in a Golden Retriever costume at this point.
Also changing is the secondary plot of the previous films, as Spikes Back not only features the animal kidnapper trope, but also combines it with jewel thieves. This is awesome, because it allows the film to reveal that Buddy isn’t now just an amazing volleyball player – in addition to basketball, football, soccer and baseball – but he’s also a crimefighter, as he and his best friend, a talking parrot, help take down Huckleberry Redneck and the Chris Farley party impersonator who are posing as plumbers.
For some reason, a super expensive diamond is being displayed at Frontbutt’s town museum, so Cletus and the Balloon Boy have a dastardly plan to steal it by hiding in the museum as plumbers, and they totally look like the kind of guys who would know how to fence a priceless diamond that is displayed in museums. But they realize they’ll need something else – Buddy.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Sullivan’s new son, whom she probably loves more than Josh, has trained Buddy to compete in an obstacle course, and that’s where the dipsh*t criminals see the dog that is going to get them the diamond. How? Apparently by running in, grabbing it and then running an obstacle course. But why should I expect anything to make sense at this point? I’m just here to watch a dog play volleyball.
Of course, that’s never going to happen, because Andrea won’t stop moping about her stupid friend moving away. It’s called life and it sometimes sucks. Deal with it, or you’ll just be disappointed for the rest of your life every time some stupid person leaves.
In fact, almost half of the movie goes by before anything even remotely athletic happens, with the majority of the plot focusing on stupid Andrea’s attempt to raise money to visit her friend in California. But she loses all of the money she raises, because the dogs she’s walking ransack the farmer’s market while chasing after her grandmother’s stupid talking bird. I’m starting to think that this Framm/Sullivan family causes more trouble than it prevents.
Andrea decides to quit crying about whatever and join a summer beach volleyball team, and remember how I really wanted to punch the junior high baseball team’s radio announcer – that’s a real character that someone wrote – in Seventh Inning Fetch? Well, the volleyball team’s coach was also the umpire in the baseball film and he’s worse, because he’s like a Nickelodeon show star that barely speaks in words, as much as he just makes obnoxious noises. I’d like to slap this man in front of his parents.
Finally, 55-minutes into this soggy diaper, Buddy takes the sand to play beach volleyball, and Andrea’s team immediately becomes the best ever, because humans simply cannot compete with dogs at volleyball. And for the first time in this stupid film franchise, I’m so incredibly excited that I was able to make this perfect GIF.
More than a half hour has passed since we’ve seen Hydrox Steve Zahn and his partner, and we know that they’ve not only kidnapped grandma’s talking bird, but because that little jerk kid was more concerned with ice cream than he was with his dog, Buddy was kidnapped. This is why little kids should not have pets until they’re old enough to sign official contracts and face legal consequences.
Of course, with Buddy kidnapped, he can’t play IN THE BIG GAME. Instead, he’s being used to steal that diamond, and the dog that is so smart that he can play any sport that he tries, is too stupid to run away. Fortunately, Buddy and the talking bird can see past their differences and they paw and claw deliver the bad guys to Sheriff Blue, before Buddy helps the Timberwolves win the volleyball tournament.
Now, Let’s Talk About The Ending
Somehow, and we don’t need a reason at this point because Buddy has already played in the World Cup and World Series, Buddy ends up as Gabby Reece’s partner in the Malibu Beach Volleyball Championship.
Again, I think my concerns about Josh Framm are legit, as he wouldn’t even make the trip to California to watch his dog compete. Or maybe Josh is just dead. Either way, he hated his family, and that’s all that matters.
Final Air Bud Series Grade: One GIF of Air Bud licking a pudding cup.