What talks, walks on four legs, and plays every sport known to man? If you guessed Buddy, the amazing Golden Retriever from the Air Bud franchise, you're right. Unfortunately, the series is becoming old news in the world of Disney television, (the original movie came out in 1997, and has been followed up with a number of sequels). Thank goodness for his five fluffy offspring, the "Buddies," whose mischief breathes new life into the Air Bud legacy.
Like their dad, Mudbud, Rosebud, Buddah, Budderball, and B-Dawg, (voiced by Henry Hodges, Lillian Mumy, Jimmy Bennett, Josh Flitter, and Skyler Gisondo,) have an uncanny aptitude for sports. They live with their parents in Fernfield Washington, where it's warm even in December. And they have everything a puppy could want. But it's not long before these pint-sized heroes are getting into trouble.
Using his stomach before his brain, Budderball, the most food-oriented of the pack, spots the open door of an ice-cream truck and can't resist. In an attempt to persuade their bottomless sibling to abandon his snacking in favor of a game of hide-and-seek, the remaining Buddies are unwittingly trapped inside. Before they know what has happened, the stowaways find themselves being shipped to the farthest reaches of the country: Ferntiuktuk, Alaska.
A long time and a lot of frozen dessert later, the purebred pups arrive at their destination. But the fur balls don't warm up to their icy environment until they meet Adam (Dominic Scott Kay) and Shasta (voiced by Dylan Sprouse). Listening to the heart-melting tale of the boy and his ever-loyal husky, the five-some learn the youngster is discouraged because he would rather be dog sledding than playing hockey like everyone else. With a little bit of teamwork, and a lot of impossible canine stunts, the Buddies decide to form the sled team their newfound friends has always dreamed of -- right in time for the biggest (and most dangerous) race of the year!
Although the film is almost free of content issues, parents should watch out for some mild bathroom humor involving the interesting smells resulting from eating too many dairy products. Also of concern is the depiction of a devious dogsledder (John Kapelos) who is in the habit of using less than legal methods to dispatch competitors. Scenes where he whacks racers or sabotages sleds may be frightening for little ones. And putting a slightly sad shade on the story are discussions of a puppy that lost his parents in a tragic accident.
This movie is aimed at the six and under crowd, so you might not expect it to carry a more in-depth theme like the complexities of dealing with over protective parents. This messages, plus the positive portrayals of teamwork, friendship and overcoming odds may give parents a few things to chew over with their own little nippers after the credits roll.