Buena Vista's December '06 Releases
Air Buddies (January 29/07)
The sixth installment of the seemingly unstoppable Air Bud series, Air Buddies marks the first time that the emphasis has been taken away from multiple-sport-playing Golden Retriever Buddy (voiced by Tom Everett Scott). Instead, the film follows Buddy's five precocious pups as they're forced to embark on a daring rescue mission after their father is dognapped by a pair of comedically inept buffoons. Along the way, the pooches (voiced by, among others, Dominic Scott-Kay and Abigail Breslin) encounter a whole host of wacky animals - including a helpful billy goat (Wallace Shawn) and a nurturing pig (Debra Jo Rupp). Aside from the inexplicable presence of actual actors such as Cynthia Stevenson and Holmes Osborne in the film's supporting cast, Air Buddies has exceedingly little to offer viewers over a certain age - though it's clear that small children will delight to the over-the-top antics of the various talking animals (the computer animation that's been used to make them talk is awfully creepy, however).
Based on a true story, Invincible casts Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale - a down-on-his-luck bartender who becomes a pro-football player overnight after successfully trying out for the Philadelphia Eagles during an open call. Filmmaker Ericson Core - a former cinematographer making his directorial debut - infuses Invincible with undeniably impressive bursts of visual flair, though he proves to be far less adept in terms of pacing (the film's midsection just drags at times). As becomes clear early on, Papale's story just isn't compelling enough to sustain a 104-minute running time - and yet there's certainly no denying the effectiveness of several elements within Brad Gann's screenplay (ie it becomes increasingly difficult not to root for Papale as the movie progresses). And as strong as Wahlberg is here, it's the supporting cast that deserves much of the credit for the film's mild success (Greg Kinnear is particularly engaging as Papale's coach).