Film / Beethoven

A series of films about a St. Bernard named after Ludwig van Beethoven. Unlike in its animated spin-off, Beethoven could not speak, although he still had Amplified Animal Aptitude. In keeping with the theme of the composer, the sequels were named Beethoven's 2nd, Beethoven's 3rd, etc. It was originally executive-produced by Ivan Reitman, who had previously produced and/or directed such films as Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters (1984), Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior, and Six Days Seven Nights. It was also originally co-written by John Hughes, writing under the pseudonym "Edmond Dantes."

The original film, released in 1992, focused on Beethoven's adoption by the Newton family: curmudgeon father George (Charles Grodin), earnest wife Alice (Bonnie Hunt), Cool Big Sis/Bratty Teenage Daughter Ryce (Nicholle Tom of The Nanny fame), geeky son Ted (Christopher Castile of Step by Step fame), and Cheerful Child Emily (Sarah Rose Karr of Kindergarten Cop fame). Unbeknownst to them, however, Beethoven is an escaped would-be test animal for a lab run by Dr. Herman Varnick (Dean Jones, who would later voice George Newton in the animated series; Nicholle Tom was the only other cast member to return for the series, providing Ryce's voice), a veterinarian who sounds like Satan and is stealing his customers' dogs for use in unethical experiments.

Reportedly, the American Veterinary Association wasn't happy about the film featuring an evil veterinarian who uses dogs as ballistic test dummies, and wrote a scathing letter to Jack Valenti, then-president of the Motion Picture Association of America. Probably as a result, the sequel has a 'safe' villain in the form of Regina, a Cruella de Vil-esque Rich Bitch played by Debi Mazar. Beethoven's 2nd was the last film to feature the original cast and the last to be released theatrically. It was also the last film to involve Reitman as executive producer.

Seven years after Beethoven's 2nd, the series was resurrected with some Direct-to-Video sequels. The family members were replaced with Suspiciously Similar Substitutes, with the explanation that Beethoven was living "temporarily" with George's brother Richard Newton (Judge Reinhold) and his family. This family includes wife Beth (Julia Sweeney), son Brennan (Joe Pichler) and daughter Sara (Michaela Gallo). After two films with them, Beethoven's 5th featured Sara (now played by Daveigh Chase) bringing Beethoven along on a visit to her Uncle Freddie (Dave Thomas) with the rest of the family absent. Beethoven's 5th was followed by Beethoven's Big Break, which rebooted the franchise. The most recent sequel is Beethoven's Christmas Adventure, which was released in late 2011.

An eighth film, Beethoven's Treasure Tail, was released direct-to-video Fall 2014 — it being a continuation of Big Break.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Adult Fear: In the first film. What if your young child got too close to the pool when the babysitter wasn't paying attention?
    • More to the point, what if you unknowingly hired a flagrantly negligent babysitter who would let your child go near an unprotected pool to begin with?
  • Award Bait Song: The second movie has "The Day I Fall In Love" by James Ingram and Dolly Parton.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Beethoven keeps climbing into bed with George. George is certainly NOT amused in the first film.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Beethoven gives bacon to the stray dog who helped him escape from the pound as a puppy.
  • Bastard In Sheeps Clothing: Dr. Varnick acts nice to people, but deep down, he's a son of a bitch of the highest order.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the first movie, a biker woman comes into the pet shop, saying she has a big junkyard and needs a big junkyard dog. She rejects the St. Bernard puppy after he pees on her and exclaims "You got any pit bulls?" Much later in the film, when Dr. Varnick's goons flee the dogs, they take cover in a big junkyard, occupied by four big dobermans.
  • Car Fu: Ted crashes the family station wagon into the bad guys' warehouse in the first movie.
  • Cassandra Truth: From a window, little Emily sees Dr. Varnick hit Beethoven in order to provoke the dog to lunge forward. Varnick then pulls the Wounded Gazelle Gambit detailed below. Because of Emily's age, the adults initially don't believe her, but when Alice sees that Emily sticks to the story no matter what on top of having never accusing an adult of lying before, she convinces George to investigate the situation.
  • Comic-Book Time: There's a seven-year gap between Beethoven's 2nd and Beethoven's 3rd, but they apparently take place in immediate succession. So evidently the world just randomly jumps from the early '90s to the early '00s.
  • Cool Old Lady: If she wasn't so criminally negligent, the babysitter in the first film could come across as this. Her idea of entertaining the kids is to play "Lady Marmalade" on the piano for them.
  • Cruella to Animals: Dr. Varnick uses poor, innocent dogs for his deadly animal experiments and he wants to test a new type of bullets on Beethoven, something he expresses with perverse pleasure.
    • Played straighter with Regina in the second movie. She initially wants to get rid of Beethoven's puppies by any means necessary, and only decides not to drown them when she finds out that they're purebred and worth a bunch of money.
  • Date Rape Averted: Happens to Ryce in Beethoven's 2nd.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Played for Laughs with Beethoven's drool in one of the sequels.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Played with. It's intentionally left vague just how smart Beethoven is and he does things that are both astoundingly brilliant and incredibly dumb, sometimes simultaneously.
  • Eating Contest: George and Beethoven participate in one in the second movie.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: In the first movie, when George goes to the vet to have Beethoven put down, you see three dogs with their owners in the waiting room as he exits. All three of said dogs look away from George and/or whimper at him.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Ryce comments on the "perfection" of her secret crush's girlfriend.
  • Fanservice Extra: There is a lingering shot of Beethoven jumping over a reclining bikini girl.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dr. Varnick wears a pair of glasses, and is a very bad guy.
  • Fresh Clue: In Beethoven's 2nd, as the Newtons are tracking their dogs, they happen to find some dog poo that likely belongs to one of the dogs. To find out when they left it there, Ryce sticks a finger in it to feel if it's still warm. It is.
  • Freudian Excuse: George's reason for his hostility towards Beethoven. While driving Beethoven to be put down, George tells him how he hated his own dad for taking his dog away.
  • Groin Attack: Dr. Varnick gets this visited upon him by another dog.
    • Also what happens to Floyd, Regina's henchman, in the second movie.
  • Heroic Dog: Beethoven saves Emily from drowning, Ryce from being raped, the family from being swindled, and performs tons of other feats of heroism.
  • Hidden Depths: George, after seemingly finding every reason to dislike Beethoven throughout most of the first movie, reveals that he is still bitter because of his father taking his old family dog to the vet to be euthanized, and regrets that he thought he had to do the same to Beethoven (and having the same resentment from his own kids). Thankfully, as soon as he realizes that Dr. Varnick is corrupt, he does everything possible to save Beethoven.
  • The Igor: Floyd in Beethoven's 2nd.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Dean Jones as Dr. Varnick in the first movie and Debi Mazar as Regina in the second one (she's known to be a great dog lover).
  • Mooks: The two characters played by Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt.
  • Negative Continuity: At the end of Beethoven, George adopts all the test dogs at the end. This is ignored in the sequel.
    • Though they probably didn't adopted them, but let them stay until they get adopted.
  • Never My Fault: The babysitter in the first film tries to gloss over her negligence by claiming that the fault lies with Emily for wandering off. Alice is not impressed.
  • Oh Crap!: The two mooks from the first movie upon realizing that they just tried to take shelter in a patrolled by some very vicious Dobermans.
  • Only Sane Man: Gender-flipped, with Alice filling this role in the first two movies, mostly observing the chaos caused by her husband, kids, and Beethoven.
  • Papa Wolf: Don't cross George Newton. He may not look like it, but he is very protective of his kids and his dog.
    • Beethoven in the sequel for his pups. When one of his sons was threatened, he didn't hesitate to ram a tree branch in Floyd's crotch. He also looks out for his humans, especially George.
  • Prince and Pauper: Whole plot of Beethoven's 4th.
  • Rich Bitch: Regina in Beethoven's 2nd.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: One of Dr. Varnick's henchmen, when Beethoven broke free.
  • Soft Glass: George enters the bad guys' warehouse through a skylight in the first movie.
  • Suddenly Voiced: In Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (the seventh movie), Beethoven can now speak (with the voice of Tom Arnold).
  • The Talk: In the second film, Ted and Emily need George to be distracted so they can sneak Beethoven's puppies into the house. Emily asks George where babies come from and it works perfectly.
    • Even better is that, after he's been desperately trying to tell her in a way that's both pretty honest and as non-sexual as he can muster, she finally ends it with, "You don't really understand this, do you, Dad?" and walks away.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: George really lays one on Beethoven in the first film, failing to comprehend why his family likes a sniffing and drooling creature better than him. Maybe if he paid more attention to them than his career obsession to raise more capital, hence his obliviousness to Brad and Brie's plans to eventually take over his business, it wouldn't seem that way so much.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Harvey and Vernon, Dr. Varnick's two henchmen.
    • Tommy and Bill in Beethoven's 3rd.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dr Varnick's dim-witted thieves in the first film.
    • Floyd in Beethoven's 2nd.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Alice calls George out for caring more about about his dream than his own family. And his kids were mad at him for taking Beethoven to be put to sleep since they know he hated him from the start.
  • Wild Teen Party: Ryce's would-be rape in Beethoven's 2nd takes place at such a party. The other teens there are all drinking beer because they are Bad, but Ryce refuses to have any because she is a Good Girl.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Dr. Varnick pulls this on Beethoven by pouring fake blood on his arm to make it look like Beethoven attacked him so he'll have an excuse to have him euthanized with the threat to press charges otherwise. Thankfully, it backfires against him later since Emily saw the whole thing and when George goes to confront him, his arm isn't covered in a cast or stitches.
  • "You!" Exclamation: George shouts this at Beethoven in the first movie after coming home on a rainy day to find his house completely trashed and the mud-soaked dog lying on his and Alice's bed. Beethoven stands and shake himself dry, much to George's further disgust.