Beethoven (film)

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For the animated series, see Beethoven (TV series).
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Levant
Produced by Joe Medjuck
Michael C. Gross
Ivan Reitman
Written by Edmond Dantès
Amy Holden Jones
Starring Charles Grodin
Bonnie Hunt
Dean Jones
Nicholle Tom
Christopher Castile
Sarah Rose Karr
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Victor J. Kemper
Edited by William D. Gordean
Sheldon Kahn
Northern Lights Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • April 3, 1992 (1992-04-03) (US)
  • July 24, 1992 (1992-07-24) (UK)
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million
Box office $147.2 million

Beethoven is a 1992 family comedy film, directed by Brian Levant and starring Charles Grodin as George Newton and Bonnie Hunt as Alice Newton. The film is the first in the series of Beethoven films.

It was written by John Hughes (under the pseudonym Edmond Dantès) and Amy Holden Jones. The story centers on a St. Bernard dog named after the composer Ludwig van Beethoven owned by the Newton family and starring Nicholle Tom as Ryce Newton, Christopher Castile as Ted Newton, Sarah Rose Karr as Emily Newton, Stanley Tucci as Vernon, Oliver Platt as Harvey, and Dean Jones as Dr. Herman Varnick. Joseph Gordon-Levitt made his film debut as a first student.


When the film opens, a St. Bernard puppy and a large group of others are stolen from a pet store by two thieves, Harvey (Oliver Platt) and Vernon (Stanley Tucci). After meeting a dog during his escape from the thieves, the St. Bernard sneaks into the home of the Newton family. The workaholic father, George Newton (Charles Grodin), doesn't want the responsibility of owning a dog, but his wife, Alice (Bonnie Hunt), and their children, Ryce, Ted and Emily, convince him otherwise. While trying to name him, Emily (Sarah Rose Karr), plays a portion of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and he barks along: thus they name him "Beethoven."

While George focuses on Beethoven's negative qualities, the rest of the family grows attached to him. He helps the children overcome their problems in various ways: he helps Ryce (Nicholle Tom) talk to her crush, scares off the bullies that were bothering Ted (Christopher Castile), and saves Emily's life when she falls in the kids' irresponsible babysitter's swimming pool, which results in the babysitter's subsequent dismissal. However, George becomes increasingly jealous of the affection Beethoven receives, feeling as though he is being neglected as the family fawns over the dog. His frustration comes to a head when Beethoven's antics ruin a barbecue he is hosting for Brad (David Duchovny) and Brie (Patricia Heaton), venture capitalists looking to invest in and secretly swindle him out of his car freshener firm.

The family takes Beethoven to a local veterinarian, Dr. Herman Varnick (Dean Jones), for a routine medical examination and immunizations. They are unaware that he is involved in unethical and deadly animal experimentation and hired the two thieves, Harvey and Vernon, seen in the opening sequence. He urges them to leave him there overnight, but they refuse. He speaks to George alone and tells him of a supposed mental instability among St. Bernards making them potentially dangerous to humans and advises him to watch Beethoven closely for any sign of viciousness. In truth, he requires large-skulled dogs such as St. Bernards for an ammunition test.

Dr. Varnick later visits the Newton home under the guise of doing a follow-up exam on Beethoven. He puts fake blood on his arm and hits Beethoven until he leaps on him. He tells George that Beethoven has to be euthanized or he will press charges. Emily, who saw Dr. Varnick hit him, protests that the attack was fake, but George, fearing for his family's safety, reluctantly takes him to Dr. Varnick's office. It is on the way there that George discovers his own affections for him: he remembers his father had to take their dog to the vet to be euthanized and he never forgave him for it. He fears that his own family will hate him now for taking Beethoven to be put down. Sure enough, when he returns home with the empty leash and collar, his family looks at him and leave the dinner table rather than remain with him.

Later, after recognizing the children's sadness and having a conversation with Alice in which she suggests that they believe their own child, George reluctantly agrees to speak to Dr. Varnick again. The family goes to his office to investigate the incident further, but Dr. Varnick claims that Beethoven has already been put down. The children are distraught, but George is upset and reminds him that he had been told that this would not happen until the next day. George notices that Dr. Varnick has no bite marks on his arm and therefore the attack was fake. George gives him a solid punch before departing with his family. Following a lack of police intervention, the family decides to follow him, leading them to his warehouse. As George closes in, Beethoven breaks free but is recaptured by Harvey and Vernon, while Alice calls the police. George crashes through the skylight just as Dr. Varnick prepares to shoot Beethoven. Before he can, a captive Jack Russell Terrier bites him in the crotch, causing him to fire a shot in the air. During the fight, Ted (who heard the shot along with Ryce and Emily) drives the car into the building, launching numerous syringes into Varnick, sedating him. As the family frees all the captive dogs, they notice Harvey and Vernon trying to escape and send the dogs after them. They escape into a junkyard, only to be attacked by a pack of Dobermans guarding it.

Dr. Varnick, Harvey, and Vernon are arrested for animal abuse. The family is praised as heroes by the news and George takes a new liking to Beethoven. Ryce also gets a phone call from her crush, Mark, much to her excitement. The family then goes to sleep, saying good night to Beethoven and all of the dogs they rescued.



The film grossed $57,114,049 in North America and $90,100,000 in other territories, to a total of $147.2 million worldwide.[1][2][3]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Based on 26 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, it has an overall approval rating from critics of 31%, with an average score of 4.7/10.[4] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, writing in his review, "this is not the sort of entertainment I scour the movie pages for, hoping desperately for a new film about a cute dog. Nor did I find anything particularly new in "Beethoven", although I concede that the filmmakers secured an admirable dog for the title role, and that Charles Grodin, who is almost always amusing, has what fun can be had playing the grumpy dad."[5] Despite mixed reviews, the movie became a box-office success.


The soundtrack to Beethoven was released on December 15, 1992.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "Opening"   Randy Edelman 4:20
2. "Discovering the Neighbourhood"   Randy Edelman 2:24
3. "Ciao, Baby"   Randy Edelman 0:40
4. "Ted and the Bullies"   Randy Edelman 2:36
5. "Beethoven to the Rescue"   Randy Edelman 2:10
6. "A Stroll Through Town"   Randy Edelman 1:41
7. "Puppy Snatchers"   Randy Edelman 3:01
8. "The Dog Has to Go"   Randy Edelman 2:03
9. "Table Spin"   Randy Edelman 0:49
10. "Sparkie's Chase"   Randy Edelman 1:53
11. "George Gets Turned On"   Randy Edelman 1:29
12. "Family In Pursuit"   Randy Edelman 1:38
13. "The Break-In"   Randy Edelman 1:51
14. "Our Heroes"   Randy Edelman 2:19
15. "The Dogs Let Loose"   Randy Edelman 1:25
16. "A Sad Return"   Randy Edelman 2:19
17. "Ryce's Theme"   Randy Edelman 1:30
18. "Roll Over Beethoven (written by Chuck Berry)"   Paul Shaffer and The World's Most Dangerous Band 4:43
Total length:

Sequels and spin-offs[edit]

The film was followed by seven sequels. Beethoven's 2nd was released to theaters in 1993. The remaining sequels were direct-to-video films: Beethoven's 3rd (2000), Beethoven's 4th (2001), Beethoven's 5th (2003), Beethoven's Big Break (2008), Beethoven's Christmas Adventure (2011), and Beethoven's Treasure Tail (2014).[7] An animated TV series was also created around the films that debuted in 1994. Dean Jones voiced the role of George Newton in this series after playing Dr. Herman Varnick in the film and Nicholle Tom reprised her role as the voice of Ryce Newton.


  1. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1992-04-07). "Weekend Box Office : 'White Men' Outjumps 'Basic Instinct'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  2. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1992-04-03). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Beethoven': Lightweight Tail-Wagger". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  3. ^ "Beethoven (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Beethoven (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved June 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Beethoven". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  6. ^ Beethoven Soundtrack TheOST. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2013
  7. ^

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