Beethoven

Movie review by
M. Faust, Common Sense Media
Beethoven Movie Poster Image
Sloppy but lovable dog tale has violence, innuendo.
  • PG
  • 1992
  • 77 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film's openly dismissive attitude toward women who work will rankle many. The children are rude to their father when they disagree with his actions, and relent only when they get their way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The dad hates Beethoven and is more centered on his career than anything else for much of the movie. The mom spits in the beverage of an unpleasant yuppie with whom her husband is conducting business. The remaining characters are too one-dimensional to be seen as positive role models. 

Violence & Scariness

A veterinarian and his henchman run a stolen dog ring in the interests of trying to test how destructive and "messy" a bullet is when fired at point-blank range. A bespectacled youngster is bullied. Everyone in the family cheers after the father jumps through the glass of a roof and lands in front of the villain, then punches him. A young girl nearly drowns before she is rescued by Beethoven. Beethoven is almost killed by a villain who abuses animals in the name of research, is shown punching Beethoven in the head. The vet is knocked out by a several syringes catapulted into his chest. 

Sexy Stuff

When Beethoven gets in bed and starts licking the father in the movie, the father thinks it's his wife, and makes remarks like "is Daddy's little girl being naughty?" 

Language

"Hell." "Sucks." "Dork." The dad uses the term "ding-dong head." Implied profanity written down by a little girl. A girl calls her dad a "dog killer." When trying to expand his business, the dad says that if the deal doesn't go through, "I'll kill myself." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beethoven is a 1992 comedy about an oversized St. Bernard who prevents and causes trouble for a suburban family. A bespectacled youngster is physically and verbally bullied until he stands up to the bullies with the help of Beethoven.  Everyone in the family cheers when the father hits a villain. A young girl nearly drowns before she is rescued by Beethoven. A veterinarian and his henchman run a stolen dog ring in the interests of trying to test how destructive and "messy" a bullet is when fired at point-blank range. Beethoven is almost killed by a villain who abuses animals in the name of research, and is shown punching Beethoven in the head. There's some sexual innuendo -- Beethoven gets into bed with the father and starts licking the back of his head; thinking it's his wife, he starts to moan with pleasure and says, "is Daddy's little girl being naughty?" After each family member writes down the name they want to give the dog after he turns up in their home, it's strongly implied that the youngest girl, maybe 5 years old, has written down a bad word. "Hell," "sucks," and "damn" are heard. When trying to expand his business, the dad says that if the deal doesn't go through, "I'll kill myself." 

User Reviews

Adult Written byk8nadamsmommy August 13, 2010

Funny, until the exploding bullet plot became clear!!!

Okay, we read the reviews posted here before we loaded this movie for our 4 and 8 year olds and thought we were in for a movie night treat. The slapstick was f... Continue reading
Adult Written bydjyossarian September 13, 2013

Beware the part about shooting the dogs in the head to see how their skulls would react

I'm shocked that this seems to be suggested for kids 6 and above. My concern is with the plot line of the bad guys testing the affects of exploding bullets... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bycrazy2012 February 1, 2011
LOVE IT!!!!!!!!
Teen, 13 years old Written byA.Ham April 21, 2017

Beethoven is a lovable comedy

One of the best, but watch out. Disturbing climax end.

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 this movie 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, but young kids will watch it over and over to see the dog drool, shake, and slobber all over the place. Sensitive kids may be bothered by the animal abuse and peril.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dog movies. How is Beethoven similar to and different from other canine capers?

  • This movie was ghost written by John Hughes, the writer and director of '80s hits like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Home Alone. In many of Hughes' movies, adults are shown to be bumbling, self-obsessed, and authoritarian, whereas kids and teens are often shown to be sophisticated, smart, and certainly capable of using profanity and engaging in other bad behaviors. How does Beethoven typify the style and attitude of John Hughes' movies? 

  • How is bullying shown in this movie? How would such bullying be handled now, in real life and in movies? Would it be any different? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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