The first decade of this millennium is often heralded as some sort of golden age for children’s films. Sure, most of Pixar’s best flicks came out in this period, and there were some winners in general, but I think people tend to view the films of their own childhood with rose-colored glasses. Most of these films are goddamn godawful. Just HOW goddamn godawful, you ask? Let’s find out together by checking out EVERY kids film between 2000 and 2009. From theatrical to direct-to-DVD to Disney Channel Original, we’ll look at ’em all because I am a glutton for punishment.
This week, we look at two three-quels about dogs from 2000. Weird how that worked out.
AIR BUD: WORLD PUP
Y’know, I’d never actually seen an Air Bud movie before. I know of them, sure, but that’s mostly because in my youth, I’d always see them sitting on Blockbuster shelves (kids, ask your parents what a ‘Blockbuster’ was and watch them feel old). I never rented them, preferring to rent movies that, you know, weren’t horseshit. But whatever, now’s my chance to get in on this apparent cultural phenomenon. Needless to say, I did not watch Air Bud 1 or 2 before this one because quite honestly fuck you if you thought I would. So I’m diving in to this one blind, but that shouldn’t be a problem, how much continuity can there really be?
First off: Who the fuck are any of these people? This movie starts with, like, a wedding? Between two people who I think the film thinks I’m supposed to know. So the film actually starts by establishing that our main character Josh is a total fuck up. Seriously, he’s the ring bearer, and he FORGETS THE RING AT HOME! YOU LITERALLY HAD ONE JOB, YOU DUMBFUCK. Ok, so wedding happens between Josh’s mom and his stepfather. Enjoy that one mention of those two characters because they are shockingly unimportant for the rest of this movie. Next up, they all return to their house, where the mom puts Josh’s little sister to bed. The sister then starts talking about how she misses her dead birthfather and wishes she could talk to him again.
Holy Fuck, movie, we are eight minutes in and you are throwing A LOT at me. Maybe cool it with the “dead dad” shit that, BTW, does not come back at all in the rest of the movie. Great. So, we also meet one more cast member in the wedding scene: Buddy the dog. The dog, who according to my limited research into the previous two films in this franchise, has already mastered football and baseball and is now expanding to fuck with european sports. Buddy has a dog girlfriend in this movie. I wouldn’t mention it, but it becomes incredibly important later on.
Josh then goes to pick up his little sister at soccer practice and sees Emma, her british teenage soccer coach. Josh falls head over heels in love and decides to get involved in soccer to get closer to her. So he, Emma, and a buncha other kids form a soccer team under Coach Montoya, who is a guy with a mustache and not the lesbian detective from “Gotham Central” like I’d hoped. Unfortunately, the team needs a forward. Bored, a kid brags that he’s the best goalie and that no one could get the ball past him. He invites anyone to try, “even the dog!” Buddy trots onto the field and, I shit you not, one of the kids in the crowd loudly says “Does he not understand that’s Air Bud?”
I may have laughed so hard at this point that I fell out of bed. I will not confirm nor deny that. Maybe better is this other clearly ADR-ed line: “Come on, a DOG can’t play SOCCER!” That’s just perfection in screenwriting right there. So Buddy is welcomed to the team and Josh and Emma grow closer together. Also Emma’s dog is buddy’s girlfriend. Also, there are dognappers trying to kidnap Emma’s dog because her family is rich. Are… are dognappers an actual thing? Because this is the SECOND dog movie I’ve reviewed to treat dognaping as if it’s an actual thing and I’ve heard of a grand total of zero real life cases.
Anyhoozles, we now get a lot of footage of the team playing soccer. And it sure is soccer. It honestly feels like I’ve been dragged to my kid’s soccer game against my will. So I’m gonna just skip over a lot of this. Skip to Emma and Josh’s first date and WOW I somehow did not notice until now just how blindingly shitty her british accent is. Like, SHE DOES NOT SOUND BRITISH. She sounds like she got hit in the mouth and skull with a baseball bat a couple a’ times. I’m not being mean, I’m being accurate.
We then meet our antagonist: the coach of the rival team who, upon seeing our band of misfits, responds “They have a GIRL on their team?” Yeah. They also have a FUCKING DOG on their team. Josh’s team beats the rival team, Buddy saves his girlfriend from the dognappers, she has adorable puppies, and in the last five minutes of this movie AIR BUD WINS THE WORLD CUP FOR AMERICA. The fuck?! I’m sure if the movie had lasted five minutes longer he would have busted an international drug smuggling ring as well.
Before I say FUCKING ANYTHING about the movie, we need to address this goddamn poster, because HOLY SHIT IS THAT DOG TERRIFYING. That dog looks like he’s seen some shit. That dog looks like he’s DONE some shit. That dog looks like he’ll fuck you up one side of the street and down the other if you step to him. Don’t believe me?
Those are the eyes of a remorseless murder machine and you will not convince me otherwise.
“So, what’s the movie about?” you ask, hoping to get me back on topic. Well, the movie focuses on the Newton family, specifically the cousins of the family that originally owned Beethoven the dog in the first two films which I have not seen. This family, which consists of a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter are temporarily taking care of Beethoven for the summer. The dad, played by Judge Reinhold, gets an RV and plans to take the family cross-country on a road trip to the Newton family reunion. Beethoven tags along for the journey and they’re off!
Oh, but one more thing. They rent a movie and it turns out to actually be a disc of top secret codes that two wacky criminals want, so they start chasing the family. WACKY HIJINX. Although said criminals DID fuck with Beethoven, and fucking with Beethoven only ends two ways: in the ER, or in the morgue.
Ah, the year 2000, when the line “Where did you get this itinerary? Www.Boring.com?” was considered a funny joke. Let’s get it out of the way, this movie shamelessly steals from National Lampoon’s Vacation, a MUCH BETTER MOVIE that I really love. The plot is similar, the family dynamic and shennanigans are all ripped from that film. Even Reinhold is Chevy Chasing his ass off in this part. And the thing is, it kinda works. Reinhold pulls off that “barely suppressing rage” thing Chase did so well and it makes him the only character in this movie I didn’t hate.
The wife is whiny as shit, the daughter is unbearably annoying, and the son is your typical sixth grader so I fucking hate him too. I will not say anything negative about Beethoven behind his back, because that would make me a snitch and the way Beethoven rolls, snitches get stitches.
I’m not kidding. Whenever Beethoven’s around, the wacky crooks run like they’re filled with the fear of god. The dog eats an entire tub of Hershey’s syrup in the film and KEEPS GOING. That is some hardcore shit!
Also, I need to mention one particular scene wherein the family visits a sumo/old west theme town and I don’t even fucking know anymore, you guys. But at one point, some slapstick comedy occurs and the filmmakers had to FAST FORWARD THE FILM in order to make it funny. On behalf of everyone who’s ever done slapstick correctly, movie, fuck you.
So at the end of the film, Beethoven fucking demolishes the two criminals for daring to cross his turf and the Newtons reach the family reunion. Beethoven’s original owners are mysteriously “not going to be able to attend the reunion” because they were played by Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt and neither of those two are going to be in this shit-pile of a film, so Reinhold and co. get to keep Beethoven for another year. END OF FILM.
So yeah, that was “Beethoven’s 3rd” and I thought it was– What? No sir, Mr. Beethoven, sir, I wasn’t talking about you! I swear, honest! Oh god, What’s that?
No, sir! Please, I promise I’ll behave. You don’t have to cut off my finger!
NO GOD NO!!!!!!!!!!!!