Once again I am trapped in the Lynwood CPS office doing a visit, but the options for child entertainment have expanded. That's right, I am now watching the final chapter in the epic large-dog trilogy, Beethoven's 3rd.
The previous installment, Beethoven's 2nd, was released in 1993, and this latest came along 7 years later, in 2000. One wonders how after seven years, some producer suddenly remembers this brilliant concept--Giant dog + People = Hilarity, and decides it's time to revive the franchise. Of course, "revive" is a pretty strong word, because Beethoven's 3rd is not a legitimate sequel, it's the kind of low-budget, churned-out straight-to-video trash that moves directly from the shooting set to the 2.99$ DVD bargain bins at Walmart, without passing go or collecting any dollars.
So, Beethoven's 3rd. Let's have a look.
The first thing one notices about this new film is that it has pretty much nothing to do with the first two films. The original cast has been replaced by a crew of actors whose previous project was probably modeling for Kmart junk-mail catalogues. This crew is led by the Dad character, played by screen legend Judge Reinhold, in a performance sure to earn him an Oscar nomination for "Worst…Stupid…Acting"…if the Academy ever creates this category like I've been asking them to.
So, times have changed since 1993--this new, alternate
The dynamic between Beethoven and the family has changed drastically. In the original films, Beethoven arrived as a sort of savior, beloved by the children, and serving as a silent protector of the family from the various sinister characters. In this film, the son hates him, the daughter is vaguely tolerant of him, and the parents mostly ignore him. He mostly just causes problems for the family and destroys their property. This is all strangely sad to witness, on some kind of weird subtext level. Beethoven arrives in this crate, transported from another universe. Transported from films that played in theaters, featuring known actors, with actual production values, to this surreal, straight-to-video-trash alternate universe, where he has no logical place in the plot, no relevance, and where even the characters don't seem to notice he is there. What if this happened to you? What if you woke up one day and found yourself in some alien situation, with people you don't really seem to know, just kind of drifting through a day to day plot that doesn't make sense? Is Beethoven's 3rd an elaborate metaphor for the alienation and essential loneliness of modern man, lost in a complex, dysfunctional, and soul-less modern society? Maybe, maybe…
The "plot", as it were, of this film, revolves around the obligatory Two Bumbling Villains pursuing the Newton Family on their trip. Apparently they encoded some kind of evil computer program onto a DVD in a video store? Which the
So, they travel around, the guys chase them, hijinks, hilarity…. It's interesting watching a movie with the volume turned down low, because it all becomes kind of vague and dreamlike. At some point I think I lost track of the plot, because suddenly the
Ultimately, I just didn't care about the plot or the characters in Beethoven's 3rd. At the end of the film, when they arrived at the Newton family reunion, I had this surge of hope that we would catch a glimpse of Charles Grodin and the original cast, and that some link would be made between this pale, nightmarish world of bargain-bin obscurity and the bright, sunny world of the original films I've come to know and love so much. I knew this was unlikely, but how could they tie up the plot without this reunification taking place? I waited with held breath.
Of course, it didn't happen. Some old man at the reunion told them that the
Beethoven's 3rd may be one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. When I get home I'm going to drink a bottle of vodka and watch the first two Beethovens over and over until I fall asleep on the couch in a crust of dried tears.