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 family dog movie has one scene where Beethoven is in peril (a man stands over him with a needle), some pratfalls, and a couple dog fart jokes. Also, adults kiss twice. To go with the Hollywood theme, Beethoven indulges in some celeb-style excess -- a fancy trailer, his own massage therapist, and more.
What's the story?
Billy (Moises Arias) is being raised by his single dad, Eddie (Jonathan Silverman), who subjects Billy to the dubious perks of bachelorhood. Dinner is convenient -- frozen macaroni and cheese. Breakfast is improvised -- cereal with water, when the milk runs out. Billy begins to suffer from the effect of his dad's long hours away from home and -- what else? -- he rebels. While skipping school one day, he encounters a certain gigantic slobberfest named Beethoven. Beethoven, a dog with a habit of wreaking chaos wherever he goes, befriends Billy and Billy asks his dad if he might be allowed to keep him. Though Eddie is an animal trainer he says "no." That is, until Beethoven lands an audition that makes him a star overnight.
Is it any good?
Kids will love the animal antics and the soulful performance of Moises Arias as Billy. Parents will crack up at Jonathan Silverman's portrayal of a beleaguered dad, whose response to chaos is an exasperated, "Really?" Cesar Milan, dog guru behind The Dog Whisperer, gives some wise words in a cameo performance.
But much of the movie's success hinges on Stephen Tobolowsky as Sal Demarco, the animal trainer turned villain. In fact, all of the lead actors inhabit their roles fully and play them to the comedic hilt. Not to mention the fact that Beethoven himself is pretty irresistible. Throw in a litter of St. Bernard puppies, an impish lizard, some laugh-out-loud scenes on the set, and you've got a good movie choice for the whole family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stardom. Do you think Beethoven needed a fancy trailer and massage therapist once he hit it big? Do you think even dogs like the glamorous life? Also, are pets supposed to have boundaries in the household, as other members of the family do? Where does Beethoven overstep his boundaries?
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