Beethoven’s Big Break (PG)
Direct to Video
Staring: Jonathan Silver, Jennifer Finnigan, Rhea Perlman, Stephen Tobolowsky, Oscar Nunez, Joe Fatone, Cesar Millan, with Moises Arias and Eddie Griffin
Directed by: Mike Elliott
I’d like to introduce my special Direct to Video/Post Theater view rating system. As many of you already know, my system for rating in theater movies is based on criteria for busy dads. There is one question to be asked :Is this movie worth my time?
For direct to video and post theater runs, the question gets turned on its head. There are so many different reasons why a movie might be “Worth it!” to get on DVD or order on cable, even if you watched it or didn’t at the theater. Here is how I break them down:
- Family Time – Movie is fun for the whole family, so set aside some time on the couch with a big bowl of communal popcorn and enjoy
- TV Sitter Time – The movie is probably mind numbing for an adult to watch in it’s entirety, but will keep the kids entertained enough for a brief excursion to the other room to pay some bills, read, and not be a human jungle gym.
- Me and the Mrs. Time – The kids are asleep or at grandma’s, and the wine is poured. You get the picture…
- Caveman time – The house is empty, or you’re traveling and need to kill a few hours. Time for a testosterone refill.
Should the movie in question not fall into these criteria, it’ll get the “Wasted!” Rating
I will be cutting my teeth, if you will, with Beethoven’s Big Break, the direct to video addition to the big dog series.
This installment is set up as the prequel to the first Beethoven movie, and apparently goes behind the scenes of the 1992 hit. In it, Jonathan Silverman plays a single dad (who is also an animal trainer on a Hollywood lot) whose son (Moises Arias) happens upon the 200-pound St. Bernard. Hairy hijinx follow as the dog lands himself the casting call of a lifetime, one where just being his gluttonous, clumsy self has the Hollywood types fawning over their next big star.
We learn some new “facts” about the dog behind the character dog, including that he, too, is a single dad caring for 3 pups on his own. And if the art-imitating-life-imitating-art isn’t enough, suspense is added as a rival animal trainer (Stephen Tobolowsky) tries his best to cause havoc on the canine and his handlers.
While most of the cast seemed like they were filming during the lunch breaks of their other films, Silverman and Arias have pretty good chemistry as the Dad/Son duo. There is so much syrupy sweetness in the movie – the puppies, the cute kid, the overwhelmed single dad, etc. – that you can’t help but want everyone to live happily ever after. Lucky for us we already know the ending – or not so lucky if you had to sit though the later Beethovens.
Bottom line, the kids will dig all the animals, the simple plot, and the not-so scary villains (Joey Fatone is one of the bad guys… that’s right, not scary at all). I sat with my 2 and a half year old who gave me a hug and said “my daddy” whenever the father and son had a tender moment. If that were any indication, I’d move it from my originally considered “TV Sitter” pile into the “Family Time” pile, because if you watch it with the family, you may find them appreciating you a bit more. Just before they ask you for a puppy.
Final Rating: Family Time – Worth It! (3/5 Stars)
Miguel Guadalupe is a Director at Gartner Inc, a technology research company. Miguel (he’s the one in the middle) grew up in New York City and currently resides in New Jersey. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he currently volunteers for various alumni and community organizations, and is the proud father of a two beautiful girls.