We are six movies into this damned franchise. The series has gone on so long that this film is a reboot, showcasing a completely different dog with the same name and behaviors. Why did I do this to myself? The inevitable plan for reviewing all 14 Air Bud and Air Buddies movies is to cover them once a week, so why did I think marathoning Beethoven movies would be a good idea? I’m going to finish this–mostly out of spite–but then no more animal themed movies until at least November. Except maybe Pig.
Like I said, this is a reboot. Yes, it’s about a Saint Bernard who gets named Beethoven because he apparently likes Beethoven’s 5th Symphony–or at least the opening that everyone recognizes–but this is not the same dog who lived with two different Newton families. This time he’s found by the sick kid from Noobz and his father, who I think looks like the combination of Mr. Bob Saget and Mr. John Stamos, but my husband disagrees. We found a middle ground saying he’s a discount Ted Moseby from How I Met Your Mother, but that’s neither here nor there. The dad–Eddie–is an animal trainer who cannot for the life of him train this new dog, but that doesn’t actually matter because the dog movie he’s working on has been completely rewritten from scratch to make room for this new pooch and its antics. It’s called… Beethoven? A little on the nose. The dog is the actual star of the film, which annoys the actor playing the dad in the movie within the movie, whose character is named… George Newton?! Wait, wait… Are they filming the first Beethoven movie in this film? Holy shit, they are. Every callback to the first two movies either happens on while the cameras are rolling or is witnessed by the screenwriter as she follows Beethoven for ideas and occasionally flirts with Eddie. Her name isn’t important as she’s never mentioned again after this film. That’s right, dear readers, this will not be the last time we see Eddie.
The conflict comes from the tried and tested formula of “evil mastermind who wants to kill the dog and his two bumbling henchmen.” If it’s good enough for the first film, it’s good enough for this movie to copy while saying in a roundabout way that it’s actually creating the first film. The guy in charge is a vindictive animal handler who wants to kidnap Beethoven and ransom him for $1 million dollars, played by Stephen Tobolowsky (AKA Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day). His two henchmen are Neckerchief and Fat One. Those aren’t their real names–they’re Tick and Bones as if they were discount version of the bullies from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers–but they’re played by Oscar Nuñez and Joey Fatone (of NSYNC). And because this is directly copying answers from the first film, the homoeroticism between them is palpable. Neckerchief/Tick is 100% queer coded, which makes it especially weird when he and Fat One/Bones get arrested and he directly tells the cops, “We are not a couple.” Excuse me? You included overt queer coding but then took the extra step of crying “No homo!” right before the ending? Thanks, I hate it.
Beethoven obviously doesn’t get killed by Tobolowsky. Emulating the raid on Dr. Varnick’s warehouse from the first film, Eddie saves the day, the bad guys are caught, and Beethoven gets to make more dog-themed films. This last bit was more enjoyable than I anticipated, as the film puns were better than they had any right to be. Plan K9 from Outer Space? Drool Hand Luke? Weekend at Doggie’s? Also, the tagline for that fake poster is, “You can’t teach a dead dog new tricks.” A little dark, but Eddie is known on IMDB for his role in Weekend at Bernie’s so that makes more sense. Those dog puns were probably the best writing the film had.
Oh, right! I almost forgot about the puppies! Because this is copying scenes and plot points directly from Beethoven and Beethoven’s 2nd, a minor plot point is that Beethoven is a single father. Very minor. Almost insignificant, even. The only thing they add to the story is a few more shenanigans because all these dogs are incredibly poorly trained–if only it was someone’s job to, I don’t know, train animals–and a moment at the climax where they apparently can smell Beethoven, telling the humans that the location they where the big dog was being held was indeed correct, not that it was ever in question. And just like Beethoven and Beethoven’s 2nd, these extra dogs are never mentioned or heard from again! They really had to copy almost everything, didn’t they…?
We’re not done with that slobber factory yet. Oh no, next time will be an out-of-season Christmas movie that features magic! Beethoven talks! He’s voiced by Tom Arnold! I wish I was kidding!
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