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The Newton family live in their comfortable home, but there seems to something missing. This "hole" is filled by a small puppy, who walks into their home and their lives. Beethoven, as he is named, grows into a giant of a dog... a St Bernard. Doctor Varnick, the local vet has a secret and horrible sideline, which requires lots of dogs for experiments. Beethoven is on the bad doctor's list. Written by
"Beethoven" isn't a great family film, but it is surprisingly sweet and amusing. It's one of those films that is strangely attracting, though you can't really understand why.
I think a lot has been built up on this film just because there were some sequel spin-offs that were more than horrible. (The 3rd and 4th sequels with Judge Reinhold were some of the worst attempts at comedy. Ever.) But the original was a nice, family-friendly film that accomplishes what it promised.
Charles Grodin plays George Newton: Family man, businessman, NOT a doggy-man. But things change rapidly when a runaway Saint Bernard named Beethoven comes to the Newton residence. Newton's children immediately get attached to the animal, but Grodin's character doesn't exactly like the fact of a big ol' slobbering dog being around his house. So there are some gags as Grodin gets mad at Beethoven for certain things he does throughout the film.
But then, evil animal vet Dean Jones tries to take Beethoven, and Newton decides to fight back for his family and bring the doggy back home.
"Beethoven" isn't anything very original, and it isn't anything very memorable, nor is it excellent quality gags. But it's a surprisingly pleasant and good-natured family film that doesn't resort to crude humor or language like other so-called "family films" out there.
Ivan Reitman, who has brought us "Ghostbusters," "Kindergarten Cop," and "Stripes" co-produced this film. He's a talented director, even if he sometimes makes average films. The thing about his films are, that even when they're average they are still pretty funny and strangely watchable. And though I'm not sure what all a producer does on a film, I think he probably did a good job with something on this film. :)
Charles Grodin is one of those actors that I've always liked because he seems very down-to-earth and regular. He is a subtle comedian that never goes OTT and doesn't come off like ANOTHER Jerry Lewis-Jim Carrey hybrid.
"Beethoven" isn't anything great, but it's strangely likable and enjoyable. When compared to other so-called family films, it's pretty nice. It doesn't skimp on the gags (even if they're not very great) and it never turns stupid (like the 3rd and 4th film).
All in all, "Beethoven" delivers what it promises, and it does it pretty nicely.
3.5/5 stars -
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