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Air Bud - World Pup
Three is a charm for the Air Bud franchise, which returns to the screen to showcase the athletic talents of Buddy, the golden retriever who made his film debut as a basketball star in the original Air Bud (1997). If the second movie, Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998) wore out its welcome (with Buddy as a football dynamo), Disney's third installment seems to have rekindled its initial freshness. Buddy takes to the soccer field this time, and he has the immense good fortune of being joined by real-life U.S. Women's Soccer Team champions Brandi Chastain, Brianna Scurry, and Tisha Venturini, among others. Kevin Zegers returns to the story as Buddy's owner, who falls in love with the only girl on his own soccer team. While sparks fly on and off the field in that romance, Buddy has a love interest of his own and soon becomes a father to six puppies. The drama heightens when a couple of puppy thieves (who closely resemble Jasper and Horace from 101 Dalmatians) pose as dog catchers and make off with the pups. A hilarious chase, assisted by dozens of courageous canines, ensues. Dog lovers in the audience will be pleased to know there is no insinuation of dog abuse here and there are no sad pet moments. Parents can skip this one, knowing their kids will enjoy plenty of benign entertainment while viewing some great soccer stunts by real-life champs. (Ages 4 and older.) --Lynn Gibson
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