Thursday, July 4, 2013

Movie Review: Beethoven (1992)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun if predicable family comedy
Cons: Some dated elements and bathroom humor
The Bottom Line
Family comedy
Filled with laughs and a huge dog
Great cast still brings laughs

"I Dreamt I Had a Puppy, and It Came True!"

I was a teen when Beethoven came out in the early 90's, but I still fell under its charm.  I just watched it for the first time in years, and I found that it actually holds up pretty well.

The Newton family is doing just fine, at least as father George (Charles Grodin) is concerned.  But one morning, a St. Bernard puppy sneaks in the front door.  It's love at first site for the three kids: Ryce, Ted, and Emily (Nicholle Tom, Christopher Castile, and Sarah Rose Karr).  Even mom Alice (Bonnie Hunt) seems to like him right away.  But George doesn't like the idea because he'll grow into a large dog that will slobber on or chew everything.

As the dog, named Beethoven, grows to his full size, George is proved right.  But he also begins to help the family in other ways.  Will they be there for him when veterinarian Dr. Varnick (Dean Jones) targets Beethoven in a sadistic experiment?

The movie moves quickly because it has several sub-plots.  Ones involving the kids are actually introduced and resolved fairly quickly.  There is a longer one involving whetherAliceis going to go back to work at the family air freshener company or not.  But even that is fairly quick and plays into one of the two longer plots.

Now this isn't to say the movie isn't fairly predictable, especially since the previews showed a bit too much, spoiling some of the bigger laughs and plot twists of the film.  Even so, when those scenes show up, they are still funny.  It's a family comedy, so you can pretty much guess where the big plots are going, but those moments are still satisfying when you get there.  However, there is one thing you'd really like to see resolved that never is.

I was actually surprised by the supporting cast they had for this movie.  Dr. Varnick's henchmen are played by Oliver Platt and Stanley Tucci.  And the yuppies looking to take over George's business are played by David Duchovny and Patricia Heaton.  Needless to say, they all do great.

Likewise, the main cast does well.  Sarah Rose Karr is cute enough to overcome some slight acting deficits brought on by her young age.  But the biggest surprise to me was Dean Jones.  I know and love him from his time as the hero of so many Disney movies.  Watching him as a villain was very interesting, yet he was believable

This movie firmly declares itself as an early 90's film, mainly with some of the fashions.  There is also a scene where the kids are playing an original Nintendo (although the dialog doesn't match how you would play Super Mario Bros. at all).

Since this is a family film, the language and violence is kept to a minimum, however there are quite a few jokes based on puppy Beethoven peeing at the wrong time or other things like that.  I've never found those especially funny, and it holds true here.

Still, Beethoven is a fun family comedy that holds up remarkably well today.  You and your kids will enjoy it.

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