Sunday, January 4, 2009
It's all about the Dogs!
(This particular review has been provided by Bryan Douglass, husband and faithful servant of Mom In the Know. Keep that in mind as you read the review below. Enjoy.)
During the holidays, one particular point of comfort for me is knowing that I will have multiple opportunities to hunker down with the kids (and maybe even once or twice with the wife) and watch a movie. We are all movie junkies and enjoy the comforts of our own living room to share a few laughs… and to be honest, with them at 8 and 7 and me at 35, we share similar definitions of “funny” and reside on the same humor wavelength.
This particular Christmas, we were blessed with an early delivery from the fine folks at Universal Studios, sending us a copy of the latest in a long-standing series of family comedies centered around life with a canine. If you are a dog lover, chances are you have seen at least one of the series titled after the famous Saint Bernard known as Beethoven. The first edition of the series hit theaters back in 1992, and 16 years later, the formula still works.
This year’s offering is titled “Beethoven’s Big Break” and offers a cast full of stars most parents will recognize. Those that grew up in the ‘80s (like myself) will recognize Jonathan Silverman with ease – remember Weekend at Bernie’s? – as well as the great Rhea Perlman, famous from her days on the small screen as the belligerent waitress in Cheers. Those of us who tend to prefer our comedy done blue will recognize comedian Eddie Griffin as well. Your young ones will recognize the others, including Moises Arias from Hannah Montana as well as Stephen Tobolowsky from Heroes. And of course, no canine flick from this era would be complete without a cameo from the Dog Whisperer himself, Mr. Cesar Milan.
Together the crew launches into life with the oversized Bernard as he attempts to survive the world of Hollywood fame. As luck would have it, Eddie (played by Silverman) is a struggling animal trainer but is also struggling to maintain sanity as a single father. His son Billy (played by Arias) is attempting to con his father – holding a strict NO PETS policy – into letting him keep the St. Bernard and his three puppies, all strays found on the street. In an amazing plot twist (at least for my girls), the dog in the move Eddie is currently working on is kidnapped! In a mad rush to find a replacement to keep production moving during the pending investigation, the studio casts (who else) Beethoven to fill the role, and antics ensue.
While Eddie and Bill begin guiding Beethoven through the rigorous work of movie production, the beefy vagabond is attempt the solve and case, and in the process, he becomes the biggest canine star the world has seen since Rin Tin Tin laid paws on the Walk of Fame. Eddie (again, as you might have guessed) begins to recognize the redeeming qualities over the beast and takes a shine to the dog and his family. By the end (that’s right, SPOILER ALERT), his career has been catapulted thanks to Beethoven’s performance, the case is solved, and the next great movie is ready to hit the silver screen.
For parents, we will admit the plot is somewhat predictable, but in keeping perspective (this is a family movie, largely aimed at getting the interest of your children, the forces that truly pull you to the ticket office, and as such the plot needs to be a bit remedial and easy to follow), the overall experience is rewarding. The story touches the heart and the dogs are rather loveable, but the humor is done well and will keep the kids laughing without coming off as corny. The humor can border on definition as rude but is mild in his worst case, and in the end, the kids are left with positive messages. The continued support for love of all creatures is something far too many kids miss these days, and the rewards of compassion and teamwork are always a lesson of great importance. The music is upbeat and fresh, the acting is professional and polished, and the results speak for themselves.
My girls and I have watched it a couple of times since, and while I tend to work while the television is being watched during the day, this movie has drawn my attention on several occasions and continues to stand as a choice we can rely on when compromised viewing choices are needed.
If you like movies and enjoy watching movies with your family, it’s hard to go wrong with Beethoven’s Big Break, and we want to thank Universal for their continued efforts to keep movies like this on the shelves and in our hearts.