This week’s special Air Bud series edition of 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days continues today with Air Bud: World Pup, which reveals that our beloved canine answer to Bo Jackson is also quite the soccer star. Of course he is. After all, this dog can play basketball well enough to help a middle school team win a championship (as well as shoot three-pointers during an NBA game) and catch passes and outrun defenders to lead a football team to the 8th grade championship game.
But I’m afraid that I’ve reached my tipping point with World Pup. I’ve stood by and watched this dog do the unthinkable in two films, but what happens in this third installment is just plain, old preposterous.
The Yadda, Yadda, Yadda Plot
As we last left Buddy’s owner Josh Framm, he’d gone from basketball to football because his best friend Tommy convinced him that chicks dig the pigskin. Meanwhile, his mom was getting checked for worms by the local vet, Dr. Sullivan, and because he eventually realized that he was being a selfish jerk, Josh asked Dr. Sullivan to stay and continue being his replacement dad.
Meanwhile, Buddy had snuck into a Seattle Seahawks game and made it on to the field, where he caught a pass from Warren Moon, even though Buddy had almost been crushed to death by a dickhead youth player who thought it was acceptable to jump on a dog and wasn’t even smart enough to never question why a dog was playing in a human league.
Just like in Air Bud: Golden Receiver, Mrs. Framm is played by a new actress. For some reason, Cynthia Stevenson was too high and mighty to star in World Pup, but she had no problem coming back to reprise the hand-me-down role of Jackie Framm in Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, which will absolutely boil my blood tomorrow. It’s almost as if Stevenson had never heard of a certain actress named Shelley Long. Gregory Harrison was also replaced as Dr. Sullivan by Dale Midkiff, as the former was probably too focused on his career of appearing in one episode of TV shows you’ve barely heard of. Thank God for Kevin Zegers’ devotion to this incredible film franchise. That’s why he makes the big bucks now.
Anyway, World Pup takes place as Josh enters high school and starts feeling all tingly down there for a new girl named Emma, who just moved to Fernfield from England. You know she’s British because she has an accent and her name is Emma, just like 50% of female British characters in TV shows and movies. It turns out that Emma is joining the school’s coed soccer team, which is very convenient to Josh and his hormones.
But Emma’s female Golden Retriever Molly also notices Buddy, and they GET. IT. ONNNNNNN. The result is five adorable puppies that another even jerkoff shows up and tries to steal.
Blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda, Josh and Emma help their soccer team win the big game, but they couldn’t have done it without Buddy, because nobody gives a crap that there’s a dog playing sports with a bunch of humans. Seriously, the ASPCA is nowhere to be found as people are trying to tackle and contain a dog in the middle of physically-demanding athletics competitions.
But if that was my only complaint, we’d already be done with this conversation and hopefully discussing which of the Hooters wing sauces are our favorites. Instead, I’d really like to talk about the ending of Air Bud: World Pup.
After Josh’s team wins the big game, he and Emma are greeted by former US women’s national soccer team goalie Briana Scurry, while the crowd chants, “Buddy!” over and over. Briana tells Josh and Emma that she’ll keep an eye on them and she wouldn’t mind playing with Buddy someday, which you just sort of take to mean that she’d kick the ball around with a dog.
FOUR MONTHS LATER…
The US women are taking on Norway in the World Cup championship match, and they’re in a penalty kick situation to determine the winner. Josh’s family is seen watching on TV at home, but he’s not with them, because of course he and Buddy are at the World Cup, and why wouldn’t a dog be allowed on the sideline at such a huge international sporting event?
Briana and the US are quickly down 2-1, but she makes a big stop and Brandi Chastain ties it up by making her own kick. But then Briana is injured on the next kick by Norway, before Tisha Venturini makes her kick to put the Americans up 3-2. The US needs to replace Briana and her injured shoulder, so the obvious choice is a dog.
Buddy goes in and makes the big save to give the US women the win over Norway and another World Cup championship. Here are my reasons why this is incredibly stupid:
1) Buddy is a dog.
2) Dogs cannot play in the World Cup.
3) Buddy is not a human.
4) Only humans can play in the World Cup.
5) Buddy is not a female.
6) Only women can play for the USWNST.
7) Nobody on Norway was even remotely troubled by the fact that the US was playing a dog goalie?
8) Seriously, nobody complained about the fact that Buddy is a male dog?
9) None of the USWNST players were like, “Um, hey coach?” as Brandi made it clear they hadn’t even seen Buddy play soccer before?
The only sensible reasoning that I can see behind this being allowed to happen is that the scene in which the American coach calls the Norwegian coach a chicken was edited out for time, and the Norwegian players thought that they could easily score on a dog goalie. Of course, because the player didn’t score, I assume that she was deported and her family’s home was burned down before they were all thrown into a labor prison.
Seriously, that’s the only way that any of this makes sense anymore.