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A series of films about a St. Bernard named after Ludwig Van Beethoven. Unlike in its animated spin-off, Beethoven could not speak, although he still had Amplified Animal Aptitude. In keeping with the theme of the composer, the sequels were named Beethoven's 2nd, Beethoven's 3rd, etc. It was originally executive produced by Ivan Reitman, who had previously produced and/or directed such films as Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior, and Six Days Seven Nights. It was also originally co-written by John Hughes, writing under the pseudonym "Edmond Dantes."
The original film, released in 1992, focused on Beethoven's adoption by the Newton family -- grumpy father George (Charles Grodin), caring wife Alice (Bonnie Hunt), Cool Big Sis/Bratty Teenage Daughter Ryce (Nicholle Tom of The Nanny fame), geeky son Ted (Christopher Castile of Step by Step fame) and Cheerful Child Emily (Sarah Rose Karr). However, evil veterinarian Dr. Herman Varnick (Dean Jones, who would later voice George Newton in the animated series) wants to dog-nap Beethoven and some other dogs for use in unethical experiments. Reportedly, the American Veterinary Association was not happy about the film using a veterinarian as the villain, and in response, wrote a scathing letter to Jack Valenti, who was then-president of the Motion Picture Association of America. Possibly as a result, the sequel has a "safer" villain in the form of Regina, a Cruella de Vil-esque Rich Bitch played by Debi Mazar. Beethoven's 2nd was the last film to feature the original cast and the last to be released theatrically. It was also the last film to involve Reitman as executive producer.
Seven years after Beethoven's 2nd, the series was resurrected with some Direct to Video sequels. The family members were replaced with Suspiciously Similar Substitutes, with the explanation that Beethoven was living "temporarily" with George's brother Richard Newton (Judge Reinhold) and his family. This family includes wife Beth (Julia Sweeney), son Brennan (Joe Pichler) and daughter Sara (Michaela Gallo). After two films with them, Beethoven's 5th featured Sara (now played by Daveigh Chase) bringing Beethoven along on a visit to her Uncle Freddie (Dave Thomas) with the rest of the family absent. Finally, Beethoven's 5th was followed by Beethoven's Big Break, which rebooted the franchise. No sequels have been made since then, until recently when Beethoven's Christmas Adventure was announced with last second marketing.
Provides Examples Of:
- Bedmate Reveal: Beethoven keeps climbing into bed with George.
- Big Bad: Dr. Varnick.
- Big Damn Heroes
- Big Friendly Dog: The titular character.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dr. Varnick.
- Brick Joke: At the beginning of the first movie, a biker woman comes into the pet shop saying she has a big junkyard and needs a big junkyard dog. She rejects the St. Bernard puppy after he pees on her and exclaims, "You got any pit bulls?" Much later in the film, when Dr. Varnick's goons flee the dogs, they take cover in a big junkyard, occupied by four big dobermans.
- Car Fu: Ted crashes the family station wagon into the bad guys' warehouse in the first movie.
- Co-Dragons: Harvey and Vernon.
- Comic Book Time: There's a seven-year gap between Beethoven's 2nd and Beethoven's 3rd, but they apparently take place in immediate secession. So evidently the world just randomly from the early '90s to the early '00s.
- Cruella to Animals: Dr Varnick who uses poor innocent dogs for his deadly animal experimentation and he wants to test a new type of bullets on Beethoven with perverse pleasure. Played more straight with Regina in the second movie who at first wants to get rid of Beethoven's puppies even if it means killing them. She only decides not to drown them when she finds out they are purebred and worth a bunch of money.
- Date Rape Averted: Happens to Ryce in Beethoven's 2nd.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Played with, it's intentionally left vague just how smart Beethoven is and does things that are both astoundingly brilliant and incredibly dumb, sometimes simultaneously.
- Eating Contest: In the second movie.
- Evil-Detecting Dog
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dr. Varnick.
- Freudian Excuse: George's reason for his hostility towards Beethoven.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The weapons dealer that Varnick is working for. We don't see or hear much about him, but his hiring Varnick to test out the bullets is what kicked off the plot.
- Groin Attack: Dr. Varnick gets this visited upon him by another dog.
- Also what happens to Floyd, Regina's henchman, in the second movie.
- Heroic Dog: Beethoven saves Emily from drowning, Ryce from being raped, the family from being swindled and performs tons of other feats of heroism.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: So Lilo from the fifth movie is raising Beethoven now?
- Hidden Depths
- The Igor: Floyd in Beethoven's 2nd.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: George
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Dean Jones as Dr Varnick in the first movie and Debi Mazar as Regina in the second one (she's known to be a great dog lover).
- Mooks: The two characters played by Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt.
- Oh Crap: The two mooks from the first movie upon realizing that they just tried to take shelter in a junkyard...one patrolled by some very vicious Doberman dogs.
- Playing Against Type: Dean Jones as the evil Dr. Varnick.
- Prince and Pauper: Whole plot of Beethoven's 4th.
- Rich Bitch: Regina in Beethoven's 2nd.
- Soft Glass: George enters the bad guys' warehouse through a skylight in the first movie.
- Suddenly Voiced: In Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (the seventh movie), Beethoven can now speak (with the voice of Tom Arnold).
- The Talk: In the second film, Ted and Emily need George to be distracted so they can sneak Beethoven's puppies into the house. Emily asks George where babies come from and it works perfectly.
- Even better is that, after he's been desperately trying to tell her in a way that's both pretty honest and as non-sexual as he can muster, she finally ends it with, "You don't really understand this, do you dad?" and walks away.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Harvey and Vernon, Dr Varnick's two henchmen.
- Too Dumb to Live: Dr Varnick's dim-witted thieves and Floyd in Beethoven 2nd.
- Why Do You Hate the Dog?: His family to George.
- Answer: Because when he was a kid his father had to take his own dog to be put to sleep.