Plot: What’s it about?
Richard Newton (Judge Reinhold) is taking his family on the vacation of their lives…whether they like it or not. His wife Beth (Julia Sweeney) is overly organized and budget conscious and his son Brennan (Joe Pichler) would rather spend the time at home charming his girlfriend. It seems as though his video camera toting daughter Sara (Michaela Gallo) is the only other family member looking forward to the trip. Sure, Richard spent twice as much money as they could afford on the RV, but at least they’ll arrive at their family reunion in luxury. Heck, the vehicle even has a DVD player inside and Richard has rented a classic for them all to enjoy, Don Knotts in The Shakiest Gun In The West. With the rental of that disc however, Richard had placed his vacation in some degree of danger as it seems some thieves placed a computer program on the disc in the thought that no one would ever rent the title. As the thieves track down the disc, a massive truck pulls up at the home of the Newtons. Inside is Beethoven, the giant Saint Bernard that belongs to Richard’s brother. While the family isn’t that excited about taking the creature on vacation with them, they soon learn that he can be of help when a certain pair of thieves begin to poke around the RV…
This is the third installment in the Beethoven series and I have to admit…I hope it’s the last. This movie is about on the same level as the first two as far as laughs go, but you can tell the budget has been dropped quite a bit. But that doesn’t slow this one down in the least and I feel it is just as good a movie as either of the previous ones. Now granted the first two weren’t comedic masterpieces, but they did make for a worthwhile way to spend a few hours. Such is the case with this third episode…it’s not an excellent movie but it is quite funny and worth your time. While I found them all to be funny movies, if you didn’t like the first two Beethoven movies you probably won’t find what you’re looking for with this one either. I will say that this movie is cheesier than the previous two films, but I don’t feel that is a bad thing at all. More than a few pop culture references surface, including the focus on Don Knotts’ classic effort, The Shakiest Gun In The West. As I mentioned above, if you liked the other movies in this series or just want an entertaining film for the whole family, this would make a solid choice. I’m adding this title to my personal collection as soon as this review is done, as should all Beethoven fans!
This film was directed by David Mickey Evans, who has directed or written several other solid family films in his career. I was very pleased with the overall visual style of this film as well as the production design as a whole. Since this is a direct to video release, I was concerned it would look like one and the lower budget would hinder the movie’s appeal. But I was impressed with the streams of color and overall composition quality Evans uses in this film. Evans also wrote and directed The Sandlot as well as directing First Kid, and he has written such films as Ed, Radio Flyer, and Open House. While the cast is totally different from the first two movies, this cast seems to have a handle on what it takes. The acting is not fantastic by any means, but given the nature of the movie I feel the cast does the material justice. Judge Reinhold (Fast Times At Ridgemont High) plays the well meaning but bumbling father quite well, and Julia Sweeney (It’s Pat, Stuart Little) acts and looks the part of a frustrated wife and mother. The supporting cast in this film also includes Jamie Marsh (Best Laid Plans, Brainscan), Michaela Gallo, Joe Pichler (The Fan, Varsity Blues), and Greg Pitts (Coyote Ugly, Office Space).
Video: How does it look?
Beethoven’s 3rd is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I am very pleased that Universal chose to issue a widescreen version of this film, even though it was created for the home video market. While the image has some small problems, for the most part this is a terrific looking transfer. The colors are rich and vivid and show no smearing or oversaturation, and flesh tones seem normal also. The contrast appears solid also with accurate shadow layering and no visible detail loss to speak of. The flaw with this presentation lies within the compression, which leaves some edge enhancement visible in many scenes.
Audio: How does it sound?
As with most comedies this movie doesn’t have the audio power to rock your home theater, but the included track does manage to spark the surrounds from time to time. The disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, but you can also choose a 2.0 French track if you’d like. The audio is strong and kicks in the surrounds when needed which isn’t often, so while the front channels work the hardest, this is the intended outcome. The music and dialogue sound good and no serious issues emerge.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains the theatrical trailer, production notes, and talent files.