Based on the title alone, one might assume that Beethoven was a period piece, chronicling the life and career of the prolific classical composer. But judging a book by its cover in this case would be unwise – this 1992 comedy film was instead about a big ol’ loveable ball of fur, a St. Bernard who loved children and finding ways to get into trouble.

When Beethoven first comes into the lives of George and Alice Newton, he is but a pup who has escaped from the evil experiments of a veterinarian gone bad. Although George isn’t exactly keen on keeping the canine, he isn’t quite strong-willed enough to counter the pleas of his three children – Ryce, Ted and Emily – who adore their little pooch pal.

But Beethoven doesn’t remain little for long, growing into an enormous, and somewhat clumsy but lovable, beast. Despite George’s thinly-veiled animosity, Beethoven isn’t the kind of dog to hold a grudge and showers the annoyed patriarch with all the love he can slobber.

When the Newtons eventually become a two-income household, Beethoven is left with the babysitting duties, although not without a few notable messes. He is the dog version of a bull in a china closet and chaos follows his every step. But George isn’t the only person Beethoven needs to worry about – the evil vet soon emerges again, this time with a diabolical plot to kidnap the canine with the help of some accomplices. The result is a comedic finale reminiscent of the Home Alone films.

Beethoven starred the ever-cranky Charles Grodin as the head of the Newton household. Those with a keen eye will also note Disney film icon, Dean Jones and a young, then-unknown actor named David Duchovny as their materialistic and conniving neighbor.

The enormous success of Beethoven in the theaters soon led to a theatrical sequel, Beethoven’s Second, four more direct-to-video sequels, and an animated Saturday morning series, proving yet again that when it comes to family entertainment – dogs are often a filmmakers’ best friend. Eighteenth-century German composers – not so much.

Were you a fan of this loveable cinematic canine back in the day? We welcome all of your thoughts and recollections of the Beethoven films in our comments section below.

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