Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Day 62: Treasure Buddies
"What are you thinking?"
"How rad this is!"
Ah, Treasure Buddies, where have you been all my life? Disney has been churning out these spin-offs to the Air Bud series with unstoppable force, much to the delight of my five-year old daughter. In five years, they've managed to produce seven films, Air Buddies, Snow Buddies, Space Buddies, Santa Buddies, The Search for Santa Paws, Spooky Buddies, and now Treasure Buddies. The delight in my soul when I found out the wait for another buddies movie was a mere four months since the last was overwhelming to the point of sheer ecstasy. Some may confuse this as Indiana Jones-lite with dogs for kids, but it's hardly willing to be pigeon-holed so easily.
The buddies, Butterball, B-Dawg, Mudbud, Buddha, & Rosebud, are the offspring of the original Air Bud, and have had all manner of adventures in their lives. They've raced in the Iditarod, walked on the moon, helped Santa, and now, they have to stop an evil Egyptian cat from turning mankind against its best friend. They've also got the expected menagerie of friends to help in their adventure, this time utilizing those old desert stand-bys, a monkey and a camel. The verisimilitude with which the filmmakers recreate the Egyptian desert really sets the film apart from other low-budget affairs.
The plot concerns a wealthy industrialist, is there any other kind, named Phillip Wellington (Edward Herrmann, in his best work since Reds) trying to track down the lost treasure of Cleopatra. As part of his quest, he needs the help of an experienced archaeologist, Professor Thomas Howard (Richard Riehle, best known as Santa from The Search for Santa Paws, though he also played Tom in Office Space) who decides to bring along his grandson Pete (Mason Cook), the current owner of the buddies. The buddies are clued into the real plot behind Mr. Wellington's adventure by his cat, who tells the buddies that she's going to reverse an ancient spell by Cleopatra to turn all humans against dogs, and restore cats to their rightful place atop the pet world.
Now, I know what you're thinking, the cats are the bad guys again? Believe me, this isn't mere anti-cat propaganda, there's certainly nothing here beyond some innocent fun, and certainly nothing that will make children think twice before wanting to own a cat for a pet. The film is populated with all manner of character actors who look Egyptian enough for my taste, and will definitely not fool children into thinking that all brown people are the same.
So anyway, back to the plot, before I forget. The buddies stow-away and find an adventure of their own in the desert. Walking through the desert and hallucinating, attending dance parties in the middle of nowhere, sampling the local delicacies like grape leaf wraps and various and sundry. It's not at all what you'd expect. Pete overhears Mr. Wellington's true motives and tries to warn his grandpa, but it's too late, and they're forced to find the treasure and give it to him. Will the buddies find them in time to save them and the dogs of the world. Well, you're not going to get any spoilers out of me, that's for sure.
The plot moves with alacrity from point to point, never slowing its break-neck pace for a moment. When the buddies hop into an air balloon to save the day, I... whoops, I promised no spoilers. This is class-A family entertainment, and almost certainly not a cheaply made cash-grab for gullible parents looking to shut their kids up for eighty minutes.
In addition to Herrmann and Riehle, it's also populated with other actors that kids love, like Lochlyn Munro (though he doesn't play the same character he did in Space Buddies) and Ellie Harvey (though she doesn't play the same character she played in Santa Buddies) and even Tim Conway, reprising his role as the voice of Deputy Sniffer from Spooky & Santa Buddies for roughly thirty seconds. It's a veritable who's-who of direct-to-video stars. Many times, my daughter has asked me why we don't rent more Tim Conway movies, and I just never had an answer. Thanks again, Treasure Buddies.
Director Robert Vince oversaw production on this, as he has all the buddies films, as well as the MVP films of the early 2000s about a chimp that plays hockey and skateboards. He's the go-to guy for talking anthropomorphic animals doing things only adults do in real life films. The film has five credited writers, and while that's usually an indication of "too many chiefs and not enough indians," here it seems like they must have collaborated well and churned out a script that's not just entertaining, but full of the kind of historical accuracy you don't get in many of today's films. So if you've got twenty bucks burning a hole in your pocket and a kid or two that just won't get off your back, head on down to your local retailer and pick up Treasure Buddies. And don't forget to tell them the elitist movie snob sent you!
I promise I'll be back tomorrow with my review of Drive.