Today I took my nephew to the movies to watch the 14th and latest AirBud film The Endless Filibarker. While the film is largely simplistic in how it deals with the election process, it certainly provides a good foundation for those children who want to understand how the government works.
We start the film with card-carrying Democrat, Skip who decides to have his dog (Buddy of course) run in the Senate Republican Primary against Rick Scott as a joke. Floridians allow Buddy on the ballot due to a mix of wanting to see an adorable Golden Retriever on the debate stage, having a good sense of humor, and well, because Florida.
This is how Florida elected the nation's second non-human Senator
The Joke isn't funny long though. The night before the primary Scott chokes trying to swallow an alligator whole leaving the canine candidate as the Republican nominee. Skip now exhausted from driving Buddy up and down the state to attend debates and fundraisers is relieved thinking that the Senate Seat is now safely blue since no one would vote for a dog over an incumbent astronaut senator. Skip overestimated Florida.
Rick Scott had apparently paid for his attack ads ahead of time, and once the President officially endorsed Buddy the PAC's backing Scott backed Buddy. Come election day Democrats, figuring the seat was safe, decided to stay home rather than brave what they assumed were long lines. The ones that did show up thought it would be funny to vote for an adorable Golden Retriever.
This is how Florida elected the nation's second non-human senator (Strom Thurmond being elected to the Senate in 1954 a half a century after crash-landing on Earth). Skip obviously feels guilty, he cost his personal hero Bill Nelson the seat, but he tries to downplay his guilt by convincing himself that at least a non-voter is better than someone like Scott. While the nation and especially Skip are reeling the other shoe drops.
On his first day in office, a bill making it illegal to be poor (I mean hey it's a kids movie after all) makes it to the floor, and Buddy fervently backs it. In-fact every Buddy backs every conservative effort while blocking every bill from the right. It turns out that Skip had left CSPAN playing for Buddy every day while he was at work. Buddy had learned to make sounds vaguely similar to Aye and Nay and was voting his conscience.
Feeling betrayed Skip did what he could to pull Buddy left. He took Buddy to underpasses so he could see homeless individuals sharing what little they had with their dogs. This leads to a flashback which takes far too long, where we go and see that Buddy was a shelter dog, who skip rescued. The way Buddy saw it he pawed his way up from the pound to be a sitting US Senator in the nations largest swing state. If anyone dog or human was poor, it was due to laziness.
This is conveyed to the audience through a weird twist on 20 questions that has McConnel asking moral questions to Buddy who responds in either his 'Aye' or 'Nay'.
This all culminates in a huge argument which is overheard by Mitch McConnel (which is among the film's most baffling cameos) who has Skip fired from being Buddy's Deputy Chief of Staff. The mix of losing his new political job as well as burning his savings taking Buddy on the campaign trail means that he now qualifies as poor thus triggering his arrest. Since Skip is a Dreamer (Totally unmentioned and unpredictable, normally I'd assume it's a twist but the film treats it as though the audience is already supposed to know?) this means he's to be deported. ICE carries him away.
When McConnel tells Buddy he feels conflicted but ultimately decides it's the right move. This is conveyed to the audience through a weird twist on 20 questions that has McConnel asking moral questions to Buddy who responds in either his 'Aye' or 'Nay'. Buddy's biggest concern is getting himself emancipated since Skip is still technically his owner. Buddy heads down to the ICE detention center.
At the detention center in Homestead Buddy sees people being held in cages and begins to have flashbacks to his time in the pound. He remembers all the times he was hit, laughed at, and of course the tiny cages he was thrown in. Seeing people go through each in order (Can you say "Preachy"?). Buddy takes off full sprint in a panic. Of course, he ends up right in front of where Skip is being held.
Skip helps to calm him down. He starts petting buddy and tells him "Don't worry everything is gonna be alright. I'm here now, It'll all be okay". We flashback to Skip holding Buddy, when they first meet in the pound. From here we go into a montage of all the times Skip did what he could to take care of Buddy, nursing him when he was sick and hurt, cleaning up after him, training him, and playing with him, and of course always turning on the TV for him when he had to go to work.
Again Buddy is conflicted but ultimately presents Skip with the emancipation papers, albeit tearfully. Skip, of course, signs them and Buddy is on his way giving a tearful glance.
What we see after this is a clear rip-off of the Reese Witherspoon film Sweet Home Alabama. Buddy turns his emancipation papers in and goes to the Senate floor. The Democrats teamed up with two of the more swayable republican Senators have put forward a bill that would reduce the offenses of the anti-poverty law from a misdemeanor to a civil offense. Which would mean, that it wouldn't trigger jail-time or in Skip's case, deportation.
Buddy is all set to vote the bill down when an aide comes running in with his emancipation papers. Skip had signed them, but Buddy never did. Once again looking back at all the good times he and Skip had. Buddy, refuses to sign and instead votes in favor of the bill. Neutering the enforcement of Mitch McConnel's Screw-the-Poor Law, and Allowing for Skip to stay in the US. Skip is instantly released and for some reason in D.C. and allowed to run onto the Senate Floor to celebrate with Buddy. The film ends with Buddy working on a bill that will establish and cement a permanent path to citizenship.
Overall the movie is preachy, very predictable and borrows heavily (copies) from other better movies. That being said, the dog is cute, the actors capable and it manages to teach politics and the political process to children. What more could you want out of a movie about a dog senator?
Skip is played by Oscar Isaac and the film features cameos by Rick Scott, Bill Nelson, Mitch McConnel, Hideo Kojima and President Trump.
Overall I give Airbud 14: the Endless Filibarker 2 paws up.
Written by Marcos Garcia
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