What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this hit comedy is thin on story but big on slapstick. Inept, repeatedly humiliated adults may annoy some parents. Don't be surprised if the kids start pestering you for a dog after watching this movie. Be aware of some questionable behavior, like out-of-control kids and a negative depiction of working mothers. The best age group for this film is 6- to 8-year-olds, who will love the pup and the comic mayhem that ensues. Older kids may still enjoy this, particularly dog lovers, though they'll likely find the story thin.
What's the story?
A St. Bernard pup escapes the clutches of dog-nappers who have taken him from a pet store. The little dog wanders into the suburban home of the Newton family. Although father George (Charles Grodin) is dead set against having a dog, his three children immediately bond with their new canine. George agrees to let the pup, which his kids name Beethoven, stay until the real owner is found. Of course that never happens, and the dog grows to full size. Beethoven is as lovable as he is messy, and helps the Newton kids cope with various growing pains. But more trouble arises when an evil veterinarian decides that Beethoven is just the dog he needs for a weapons testing project. The kids must convince Dad that Beethoven is innocent of a faked assault charge.
Is it any good?
The slapstick gags in BEETHOVEN may be old as the hills, but that hardly matters for kids. For them, this comedy hit offers the irresistible combination of a dog whose destructiveness is excused by his innocence with the spectacle of a prissy, fastidious father who is proven wrong at nearly every turn.
Written by John Hughes (using the pseudonym "Edmond Dantes"), Beethoven takes a lot of unnecessary cheap shots. With the exception of Mrs. Newton, all of the adult characters are depicted as either ninnies or villains. No father would want to be treated the way that George Newton is treated by his kids when they disagree with him. One 7-year-old viewer considered George to be a "jerk," even after he saves Beethoven in the end. Beethoven is only occasionally lively, nonetheless, young kids will watch it over and over to see the dog drool, shake and slobber all over the place.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about some of the bad behavior in the film. Why was Charles treated so poorly by his kids? Did he deserve it? How do you relate to your own parents? What explanation does the film give for treating working mothers so poorly?