I could use this space to write a snarky column about the latest â€œBeethovenâ€ film, Beethovenâ€™s Big Break, which just came out on DVD, but whatâ€™s the point? If youâ€™re reading this review, youâ€™re probably wondering if this is the kind of movie your kids will enjoy and whether youâ€™ll gouge your eyes out while watching it with them. My answers are â€œYesâ€ and â€œNo.â€
Although it was obviously made on a low budget, kids arenâ€™t going to care that most of the scenes were shot on the generic city backlot of Universal Studios, or that most of the animals were computer generated; all they’ll care about is the heartwarming story and the hijinks of that big St. Bernard named Beethoven. Beethovenâ€™s Big Break is the kind of movie Disney used to make before they became a tween factory.
Sweet, but not too syrupy, and actually a little clever in its plotting, Beethovenâ€™s Big Break stars Jonathan Silverman (a long way from Weekend at Bernieâ€™s) as Eddie, a single dad raising his young teenage son (played by Hannah Montanaâ€™s Moises Arias). Eddie is an animal handler for the film industry and has so many creatures living in their farm house (iguanas, monkeys, parrots and more) that he has a strict â€œno petsâ€ policy for the house. But when a stray St. Bernard (yep, Beethoven) comes into their lives, thereâ€™s no stopping this force of nature and her (yes, her) litter of pups from staying with them.
When Eddie gets blamed for the dognapping of a cute canine staring in a new, big-budget doggy movie, heâ€™s quickly canned by his knifing boss (an over-the-top Stephen Tobolowsky). As the movieâ€™s penny-pinching producer (Rhea Perlman) scrambles to recast the film, Beethoven crashes the auditions and wins over the heart of the lively director (Eddie Griffin). Beethoven is instantly cast as the new star and the filmâ€™s plucky, cute screenwriter (Jennifer Finnigan) is instructed to follow Eddie and Beethoven around to get ideas for a film catering to the big dog. What results is sort of a meta kids’ film in which the script the screenwriter comes up with is actually the story from the original 1992 Beethoven film which starred Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt.
Beethovenâ€™s Big Break has all the hallmarks of any family film. Eddie and the overworked, pretty screenwriter fall in love; Moises overcomes his fears and is finally able to talk to the cute girl in his class; Tobolowsky and his henchman get their due diligence, and everyone lives happily ever after. While it’s quite apparent that most of the filmâ€™s budget went into casting, all of the talented actors in Beethovenâ€™s Big Break are having fun on camera and are well aware of who their audience is. Take it from me, the father of a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old: Iâ€™ve seen my share of high quality kidsâ€™ films and the dregs of the genre, and Beethovenâ€™s Big Break is an enjoyable movie that viewers of any age can enjoy.