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AIR BUD sequel just so-so, but making it full of no-no's
Many of us in the audience at the Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, which is where we watched SNOW BUDDIES last Friday, have fond memories of watching ongoing film series with recurring characters, like Tarzan and Jane, Blondie and Dagwood, Andy Hardy and his family, to name just a few of the longer-running ones. But most moviegoers are unaware of which characters or group of characters has been filmed most often. Not counting silent, animated and short films, made-for-TV movies, and foreign-language films, TARZAN, not surprisingly, is #4 on the list, just a few films less than were made featuring Sherlock Holmes. Topping Holmes is another detective, a Chinese cop from Honolulu, Charlie Chan, who was in 45 pictures in all. By the way, none of the actors who played him was Oriental. At the top of the heap is that gang of ruffians from the Big Apple, the Bowery Boys, who were in a total of 48 flicks. Not all the actors or the characters they portrayed were in all 48, but the three or four main actors and their characters stuck together for a good share of them. And before that, the gang made 38 more movies as the East Side Kids and Dead End Kids-all told, more than Chan and Holmes combined. What, you ask, does this have to do with SNOW BUDDIES? Well, this AIR BUD sequel is Disney's longest running film series of all time, even surpassing the LOVE BUG bunch. The sixth film, prior to this, AIR BUDDIES, featured Bud's puppies as the main stars, as does this one, and presumably the next one, still in production, called SPACE BUDDIES. While SB has some fine voice talent in supporting roles, notably Whoopi Goldberg and Kris Kristofferson, the story stretches credibility with the young puppies pulling a dog sled in a grueling Alaskan race against adult dogs. But, hey, it's only a movie, so I'll cut Disney some slack over that. But I do give the studio some grief over the way they treated their canine actors. As an animal lover who loves to watch them in movies (SEABISCUIT is among my personal all-time Top Ten favorite films), I was appalled that the producers cut so many corners and disregarded so many guidelines and regulations by organizations like the American Humane Association, which is responsible for the end-credits line in movies with animals that states "No animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture." If you want to know more of the grisly details leading to the death of five puppies during the shoot, check out the blogs which accompany the User Comments and other info about this film. Sad as this case was, it is to be hoped that Disney and other film makers learned some lessons from these mistakes. I would not have watched this picture if I felt Disney had no remorse over its actions. I believe their next AIR BUD picture should carry a dedication which reads something like, "This film is dedicated to all past and present animal actors in the AIR BUD series who have performed so well and given so much of themselves in the production of these films." As moviegoers, we should insist the studio that is home to Mickey, Donald and Goofy does no less. Dale Roloff
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