The Beethoven movies are apparently lucrative. The first film, Beethoven, was popular enough that a sequel, Beethoven’s 2nd, was quickly made for release the next year. Sure, the second one didn’t get very good reviews, but that never really stopped anyone before. It did seem to put off any more sequels for while, though; Beethoven’s 3rd came out 7 years after its predecessor. It was straight to DVD and had none of the original cast. But how do you tell the story of this particular dog, beloved by his family, if you don’t have that particular family? Why, you mail him in a crate to relatives!
Sure enough, the Newtons this time around are the cousins of the original family, who went on a European trip and thought mailing Beethoven to family members was the best idea. This raises a lot of questions, since the movie directly said that George and his family were already in Europe when they sent Beethoven over in a big box. Did they all collectively run out of patience after taking Beethoven across the Atlantic? Did they leave him with a boarder who just couldn’t take any more after a few days? Things are further complicated when you notice the label on the crate was in Spanish, so what the hell actually happened? Anyway, the new Netwons are Richard (Mr. Judge Reinhold, and no, that’s not his real name), Beth (Julia Sweeney), Boy Child, and Girl Child. Richard is George’s brother but Beth is the true George Newton of the family, freaking out over things like “the RV her husband rented is twice their planned budget” and “Beethoven is destroying things that they have to pay for.” They’re all embarking on a cross-country road trip to a family reunion where the plan is they’ll meet up with the other Newtons and drop Beethoven off. Yup, that’s definitely how this movie is going to end.
The villains this time are two bumbling nerds who stole some operating system and stealthily hid it in a DVD case, which of course the new Newtons bought. Oops! Time for them to stalk the family for hundreds of miles and mess up every attempt to get the DVD! One of them–the one who looks like a white Danny Pudi–believes he’s the smart one, but they’re both complete idiots. And dorks who apparently weren’t bullied enough. And for reference, the other looks like the personification of the year 2000 and drinks coffee instead of having a personality.
All of Beethoven’s bad behaviors are back, leading to a bill at just about every pit stop the Newtons make. Beth even says at one point that Beethoven’s shenanigans–mostly keeping the two dorks at bay, not that anyone notices immediately–has cost the family almost three thousand dollars, and that is just at the first stop. It comes up more in Beethoven’s 4th, but Beethoven is a very poorly trained dog. Sure, at the climax he stops the thieves and saves Girl Child by following a command to sit, resting on the big, red emergency stop button the RV had–it’s a thing, trust me–but the tension of the scene comes from the fact that he had never followed a command up until that point. The better odds were on Beethoven ignoring the command and the runaway RV rams right into a cop car. That Richard stole. While the cop was in the passenger seat. No, he didn’t get arrested for that.
The whole movie reeks of G-rated shenanigans for kids. Well before Richard steals a cop car, they stop at a cowboy themed tourist trap. In the years since Richard went there as a child, it had been bought out so it still had the western aesthetic, but most of the employees were Japanese so you get a sumo wrestler with a cowboy hat and twin pistols. I’m not saying that’s going to be my next Shadows of Brimstone character, but I’m not not saying it either. Boy Child has a crush on a girl with way too many hair clips (I don’t care that this came out in 2000, it still looks tacky) and they coincidentally are stopping at all the same places. They even go to the same school, not that she appears in the sequel or anything. And the nerds are just exhausting–it’s all coffee and failed Jedi mind tricks.
In the end the Newtons make it to the reunion, reluctantly planning on giving Beethoven back to their cousins. But what’s this? The Riddler–yes, their Uncle Morrie is played by Frank Gorshin, the Riddler from Adam West’s Batman–tells them that George and family are staying in Europe for another year! Don’t ask how or why. And on top of this, some other family members had to leave suddenly, so the new Newtons get to chauffeur two more big Saint Bernards back home. Beth nearly dies of shock. Hilarity.
Once upon a time, Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest was so bad that my friends and I made up the idea of the “Necronomicorn” to amuse ourselves. I will even go as far to say that some unknown person who I definitely do not know added “Necronomicorn” to the Wikipedia page for the film, and it stayed up there for longer than you’d expect. I mean, who really is reading the entry for the third Children of the Corn film? In that vein, I want to give a shoutout to whoever decided to list on IMDB that the uncredited dog actor playing Beethoven in most of these sequels is named Cujo in real life. I don’t believe that for a second–especially since the same dog is had the role for over 16 years of movies–but I do appreciate your work. And that’s the most fun I had watching this movie.
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