A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fourth installment of the Beethoven series is bursting with potty humor that's as predictable as it is likely to give your younger kids bad ideas. The story (a canine version of The Prince and the Pauper) doesn't really start until the halfway point, and in the meantime, all the sight gags, pratfalls, and adorably big and slobbery St. Bernard dogs in the world can't salvage another film from a franchise that jumped the shark a long time ago.
What's the story?
While taken to an outdoor obedience school, Beethoven runs away and ends up getting mixed up with another St. Bernard -- a wealthy and well-behaved dog named Michelangelo. While Beethoven makes a mess of a mansion, Michelangelo wipes his feet before entering the Newton's long-suffering, long-slobbered on home, is loyal and friendly, doesn't get into garbage, and basically does none of the things we've come to expect from Beethoven. All the while, a conniving butler is scheming to have the real Beethoven dognapped and held for ransom.
Is it any good?
The humor in BEETHOVEN'S 4TH stays at about a second grade level, and it's the kind of humor you probably don't want to encourage in your young kids. Silly pratfalls, dog slobber, dog vomit, dog flatulence, a leash to the groin -- to say nothing about a story that doesn't really start happening until the halfway point.
The impression here is that the story, such as it is -- a retelling of sorts of The Prince and the Pauper -- exists merely to kill time between the inevitable scenes of Beethoven making a big ol' mess of things. Whether or not Beethoven's drooling, trash-eating presence is enough to overcome what is basically a pointless sequel churned out to make a buck in the straight-to-DVD market is entirely dependent on whether or not you believe dogs acting silly in movies trumps everything else.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the cartoonish stereotypes presented here, such as the stuffy English butler, the drill sargeant dog trainer, and the uptight rich woman. Are stereotypes useful in movies? Are they ever OK to use for comedy?
Rarely do sequels top the original movie, and more often than not, they are far, far worse. Why do you think that is? Why are sequels created?
What are similarities and differences between this film and the story The Prince and the Pauper? Why do you think people who make movies take old storylines and rework them into their own films?
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