Jockin’ the bitches, slappin’ the hos.

A St. Bernard requested that I ramble about her favorite film, Beethoven. The dog’s name is Phoebe and she’s a service dog and I’ve mentioned her and her “disabled and wobbly human” Lauren before, but in case you didn’t already know, she and Lauren are awesome. I use that word a lot, “awesome”, but that’s because it’s a great go-to word to display my overly-positive feelings about something, plus I’m an idiot with a small vocabulary. Thesauruses are for pussies — and comparing those who use important/needful things to pussies is for idiots with small vocabularies.

The DVD came from Netflix and because I stupidly assumed that we live in the age of the 16×9 television, the shit came in 4×3 Full Frame, which ultimately wasn’t that bad because the movie looks like it was filmed Open Matte with the intention of having it play un-fucked with on the square box at home for the kiddies over and over again, so it wasn’t like I was missing any visual real-estate. The cinematographer was Victor J. Kemper, who probably got the job because one of the movies he shot was Dog Day Afternoon, and this movie, it’s about dogs, right? He also shot for John Cassavetes and maybe the St. Bernard in this movie had a reputation for improvising like a motherfucker, so the producers thought Mr. Kemper was equipped for that kind of filmmaking, I don’t know.

Doing kind of a full rundown here, so if you want to come into this 19-year-old dog movie fresh, do like you always do and stop reading at this point. If you want to know my opinion, well here you go: it’s not a bad movie, it’s nice and cute and it brought out the occasional AWWW and the even less occasional HA HA HA, but I’m not gonna go around preaching the Gospel of Beethoven anytime soon. It’s OK, you know. Amusing, that’s the word I’m looking for — Beethoven is an amusing movie. Hey, I never said I was a critic, just some asshole with no one to talk to, and blogs are like the equivalent of the barber shops where old men can sit there all day just to ramble their thoughts to a captive audience of people getting a little taken off the top because no one else is around or doesn’t want to be around to listen to their bullshit, so, uh, yeah.

The movie begins with Stanley Tucci playing the kind of role he used to play before he Big Night’d his ass into more meaty roles, and Oliver Platt plays his partner-in-henchmanning. They’re sneaking in stolen dogs into this warehouse while being overseen by their overseer, and I guess it’s supposed to be a surprise later in the film when this Big Bad is revealed, based on the way he’s lit during this scene (his eyes are the only brightly lit part), but c’mon, it’s still too bright and you can tell who it is because these guys work for Dean Jones. He was in all of these Disney family films (as opposed to Disney porno films) back in the 60’s and 70’s with titles like That Darn Cat, The Love Bug and Why That Loveable Negro! and he was always the lead, always the good guy. But now in what basically amounts to a 90’s version of those flicks, he’s the villain, so it’s kind of a turnaround or a 180 or whatever you want to call it.

Back to Stan and Ollie; while Platt is wearing coveralls, Tucci’s got one of those trendy-for-the-nineties suits on, only he’s totally fucking it up with these cowhide boots and to make things worse, he tucks his pants into them. Really, Stanley Tucci? You’re not a chick and you’re not Rick James circa 1979, so pull your pants out of those boots and cover those motherfuckers up. These characters, by the way, would later reunite in the sequel Beethoven 2: The Imposters, which was a financial failure due to it having absolutely nothing to do with Beethoven and because it tried pulling some Planet-Zeist-in-Highlander II: The Quickening shit by having it take place during the 1930’s on some fuckin’ boat.

Anyway, why are they jacking all of these dogs, and what does Dean Jones want with them? The movie’s sure as fuck not gonna tell you, at least not now, so instead the opening credits begin and we are introduced to our titular St. Bernard, back when he didn’t have his titular name yet. We see him as a puppy in a pet store and it seems like a very nice pet store because Melora Walters works there, and she usually plays meek soft-spoken chicks who wouldn’t fuck around with animals, not even in Boogie Nights, even though I’m sure that fuckin’ Colonel tried convincing her and Jack Horner to maybe dabble in the bestiality sub-genre (and I do mean “sub”) because there’s money to be made doing that shit.

But guess what? It’s all fuckin’ connected, man, the pet store and that evil Dean Jones, because after hours Stan & Ollie break into the pet shop and dog-nap some of the puppies — including our St. Bernard — and hightail it out of there in their SWAT/bread truck. Our dog, though, he manages to break out, along with his new Jack Russell Terrier buddy. Rather than go on the lam together, they separate and travel completely different paths; Beethoven manages to find a family’s house to crash at, while the Jack Russell Terrier tries his hand at being a fuckin’ bum who lives off of what I throw away, but he’ll just be Jack Russell Terrier, no more, no less.

Yeah, Beethoven finds a house, looking for potential suckers and he definitely finds one in this little girl named Emily Newton, who just happened to be dreaming of a puppy before she woke up. The little doggie starts kissing Emily and in walks Bonnie Hunt (playing the mom), her brother Ted (wearing the kind of glasses that hipster chicks too hardcore for black frames like to wear nowadays), and her hard-up big sister Ryce. These guys, they take the sight of this strange street dog licking the little girl’s face rather well; you’d think they’d kind of freak the fuck out because for all they know, this dog could be infecting her with Gwyneth Paltrow Cooties, but alas, this is the way it was written in the screenplay by Edmond Dantes (that’s John Hughes to you, buddy) and Amy Holden Jones (the auteur behind The Slumber Party Massacre). I wonder if it was the latter scribe’s idea to have the family eat at a kitchen table that has a bowl of live goldfish as its centerpiece; I mean, I’m sure the Newtons dine on fish every once in a while, which is kind of fucked-up for the goldfish, to have to witness that barbaric shit happening to their fellow gill-breathers.

Let’s talk about Bonnie Hunt for a second (in the form of a long-ass paragraph); if you’ve ever seen her get interviewed, then you probably already know that she’s a very funny lady who is so overwhelmingly awesome that even that cranky asshole David Letterman probably writes love letters to her mother’s vagina for popping out someone so full of pure uncut Win. I was particularly fond of her interviews on The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder — which was my favorite late night talk show at the time, because Snyder didn’t give a fuck and because there was no audience to try to win over — she was so fuckin’ quick and also displayed expert poise in handling Snyder’s repeated requests that she one day appear on the show in her old nurses’ uniform. Goddamn, I miss that dirty old man, now more than ever. Anyway, it makes perfect sense that someone as talented as Ms. Bonnie Hunt starred in something like 17 different sitcoms and talk shows only to have them end up cancelled.

So Ms. Hunt and the kids try to convince the goddamn paterfamilias (played by that bad Charles Grodin — also one of my favorite talk show guests) to keep this dog, but he’s at the very least, hesitant about the idea. He brings up how dogs drool, smell, make messes, and eventually die — the same argument I use against having children — but since the movie is called Beethoven and not No Country For Young Dogs, he relents and now they have to find a name for the dog. Because this movie was shot in 1991 the kids come up with such potential monikers as M.C. Hammer and Ultimate Warrior, but because the movie was released in 1992 this scene is funnier than it has any right to be, because by that point, homeboy dropped the M.C. from his name and soon The Ultimate Warrior would find himself out-ski from the WWE. In the end, the dog reacts favorably to Emily’s piano performance of the 5th Symphony, so Grodin decides on the name of….Beethoven. Cue the Dog-Growing-Up-And-Literally-Pissing-On-Grodin’s-Hospitality montage scored to Paul Shaffer’s rockin’ old white man cover of “Roll Over Beethoven” blared in Dolby Stereo (in selected theaters)!

Poor fuckin’ Grodin — this guy comes home from a long day’s work running his car air freshener company, trying to impress potential business investors played by Patricia Heaton & David Duchovny (although based on Mulder’s performance here, he should’ve spelled that shit “Doucheovny”), and then has to clean up all of the dog’s messes. He was right! He was absolutely right! There’s fuckin’ drool in his shoes, dog fur all over, dirty floors, wet spaces, paw-printed suits, it’s a madhouse he has to live in. At one point, Beethoven is all wet & dirty and he shakes it all off, causing goo, drool and slime to splatter all over Mardukas up in here and it was then that I remembered that Ivan Reitman produced this movie.

I bet you that shit was his idea, because he directed a monster-sized hit movie called Ghostbusters that featured one of the stars getting slimed by a Class 5 full-roaming vapor; he probably brought that up at the script meetings, saying that Grodin’s character should get slimed and everyone else was like “Yeah, but dogs don’t slime, they get water and mud and drool all over you, but not slime” and Reitman probably cleared his throat and said “It worked in a little $200+ million grossing film called Ghostbusters” and then gave some asshole-smug smile. Then his stupid little bratty kid stomped into the room and kicked one of Reitman’s underlings just because and Ivan’s all “Oh, Jason! You’re so precious!” and little fuckin’ asshole Jason was like “You bet your ass, homeskillet!” and Ivan’s like “Just where do you come up with these sayings? You are indeed the living end, my child, the living end!” before tossing to Jason yet another fat wad of cash for him to do with as he pleases. Goddamn. GODDAMN.

Anyway, Grodin’s kids are reaping the rewards (while he’s getting raped by the responsibilities) and they’re loving life with this dog, taking him out for trick-or-treating as a horse (fairly easy for this miniature horse-like creature, they just put a saddle on him) and they don’t even know that Beethoven’s still living the life of Riley when they’re not around. Yeah man, after the kids go to school and the mom’s out banging the milkman or something, The Beet’s being a sneaky son-of-a-bitch.

You see, even though they lock him up in his corral during the day, homedog’s like Charles Bronson in The Great Escape or the mythical character who gave eternal cuntface twat Madonna quite the rogering in her song “Like a Virgin” — he’s digging tunnels, specifically one big tunnel under the corral fence and off he goes! Off to roam the mean streets of Happy Clean Town, USA (pop. 3,718 – 2 black, 1 hispanic), where he can continue his daily routine of Always Eating; seriously, it’s not enough to snatch the bacon off of Grodin’s plate, and if he keeps that kind of Exiled from Contentment diet up, Beethoven’s gonna catch some serious ‘Beetus. But maybe that’s why he’s walking all over town — he works off all those calories with all that cardio, in between liberating leftover food from sidewalk cafes and drinking from the water hose at the local fire station while only a few feet away sits the faggy Dalmatian, parched and unloved.

Like me, Beethoven eats everything but he especially loves him some pastries (he gets the hook-up from the friendly lady at the bakery) but unlike me, he will happily share his treats with others, like his alley-loitering Jack Russell Terrier friend. The little dog munches on this rather phallic-shaped pastry, which I guess is foreshadowing when you consider what happens during the climax of the film.

(He bites Dean Jones in the Tom Jones, that’s what happens.)

Because they don’t actually have to live with Beethoven, everybody in the neighborhood loves him and they don’t fink on him for running around sans owners, even when he’s visiting the young’ins at their schools, like Ryce; the poor girl has recently been getting all crotch-perspired whenever this fellow student named Mark (oh hai Mark!) shows up. This threw me off, because based on Ryce’s love for M.C. Hammer and Heavy D and the Boyz — not to mention the poster on her bedroom door of a spotted dalmatian that implies how black & white can co-exist — I figured she was into the dark stuff, but Mark is a white dude, so what do I know? Ryce is too nervous, but lucky for her, Beethoven’s a smooth smooth who will hook a sister up, and he manages to get Mark interested in talking to Ryce.

He gets around, this canine! Because this movie takes place in a time before bullied kids discovered firearms and trenchcoats, Ted’s been taking a lot of shit from a group of the lamest group of bullies ever. Well, here comes Beethoven to the rescue, flashing his chompers at the little villains while standing behind Ted, not giving himself away — thereby making Ted feel like he scared the kids off by himself, giving him some much-needed self-confidence. He also saves Emily from drowning in a pool, which is awesome unless you’re a parent who lost his or her kid in a drowning accident, like my aunt & uncle, and boy am I glad I never brought *this* movie over to their place — can you imagine the awkwardness when that scene comes up, watching this young girl miraculously saved as Beethoven carries her on his back, further advancing the He’s Really A Little Horse theory I had going, while my aunt & uncle start doing the whole Why God Why cry/mope, like they’re gonna get an answer from that twisted sadist.

Grodin unfortunately doesn’t understand the kind of selfless things this dog is doing for the family, since he’s already riding the Fuck This Dog train and he’s not one to pull the emergency cord. Later on, Duchovny and Heaton show up to have Grodin sign some contracts, only he doesn’t know that these two assholes are plotting to fuck him over because that’s what you do in Big Business. I thought it was rather bush league of the filmmakers to use these fuckhead characters as an opportunity to spread their foul pro-family propaganda; you find out that they don’t want kids and are rather content with that decision and then later in the film, Hunt gives Grodin shit by saying something to the effect of “Your family is going down the drain and you’re worried about a dream!” because fuck a dream — keep popping out kids and live your unhappy zombified existence in order to support them because the more, the merrier in the Keep Consuming game. And what becomes of those who don’t agree? They get their asses handed to them by Beethoven when he ties his leash around the chairs they’re sitting on and takes them for a fuckin’ ride. It is Good Times to see Duchovny’s smug ass get dragged down a sidewalk, though, that’s for sure.

Because this is a movie for the kids, it turns out Dean Jones is getting paid by Howard Stern’s dad to test out some new explosive hollow-point bullets by firing them into the skulls of large dogs. See, that’s why Jones is paying Joe Gould’s Secret and Ready to Rumble to jack all these dogs — he either shoots them in the fuckin’ head or shoots them up with chemicals and drugs. The best part is that Jones is also a veterinarian, leaving me all disturbed as I wonder how many innocent dogs did this guy yank from his clients, all under the guise of I Had To Put Him Down Because He Attacked Me. So many families destroyed by this guy, just so he can drive his awesome Porsche and pile up stacks of cash in his safe (while his minions stack up just as many dog corpses in the incinerator). But hey, that’s capitalism, baby — you gotta get yours at all costs. Like that mumbly, not-really-talented, bullet-ridden rapper is fond of saying: Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

Somewhere, somehow, a family is at home watching Beethoven on television and some kid is asking his or her mom or dad to explain this particular plot turn; “Oh, well honey, you see, the bad man wants to fire a .357 hollow-point bullet into the doggie’s skull, and once he’s finished cleaning up all the doggy brain matter and mopping up all the blood and pick up the pieces of shattered broken doggy skull, he will take the written and videotaped results over to his employer, the ammunition manufacturers, where they will then take these results and figure out whether or not they’ve succeeded in creating a bullet that inflicts the most permanent damage to its target”.

Jones thinks he can pull this shit on the Newton family, by visiting Beethoven and then pouring fake blood all over his arm and getting our dog to attack him — and it works, dear Jesus, it works. Now Grodin’s gotta drive ol’ Beet to the vet, so he can put him down (but in reality, Jones is gonna shuttle him off to get shot in the head) and the sequence begins with a shot of Beethoven innocently rolling around in his corral that just about broke my fuckin’ black heart. Then Grodin’s talking to The Beet in the car, feeling all bad about this Green Mile drive he’s making with him, and the motherfucker is just crushing it in the dramatic department while Randy Edelman’s overly-sappy score is doing its thing.

Then later when they arrive at the vet, I think the reality of the situation has dawned on the dog, and he looks just so fucking sad — either that or Chris the Dog (the actor who plays Beethoven) was hitting the bong something fierce in between takes, because his eyes are very heavy-lidded, like he has Forest Whitaker Disease, only it’s affecting both eyes. As Grodin leaves, he takes one final look at the dog, now behind a cage, and Beethoven responds by barking back the dog equivalent to Harry Dean Stanton’s “AVENGE ME!” line in Red Muthafuckin’ Dawn.

But calm down, this ain’t Million Dollar Doggy, this is Beethoven, so soon Grodin and his family are out to get their dog back — one of the things Hunt tells her husband is “I know he slobbered and he smelled bad, but he loved us” and I’m like, Is she talking about a dog or an elderly relative? — and face off with Jones. He tells them that the dog’s already been destroyed, but Grodin, he’s not buying that shit, so he throws a right cross and knocks his old ass out because the boyz in da hood are always hard, you come snatching their dogs and they’ll pull your card. Then he and his family wait across the street under some bright-ass lights, because that’s what you want to do when sneakily following someone, you want to make sure that you’re in plain unobstructed sight.

They follow him to his Warehouse of Dog-Skull Obliteration and it all goes down like family-movie-climax clockwork; Beethoven breaks free and chases Stan & Ollie around, until he finally catches up with Tucci and chomps on his foot, causing the guy to give out one of those patented Stanley Tucci girl-screams. It was at this point that I can see why Phoebe the Dog considers this her favorite movie, because this flick is like James Bond for dogs, particularly for St. Bernards: you have this St. Bernard who gets to eat everything and have fun with kids and even occasionally chomp on the occasional human or two, and people applaud your actions — why of course, it’s total escapist fantasy to these dogs.

The rest of the dogs escape and the Jack Russell Terrier bites Dean Jones in the junk, and then Jones gets owned Basket Case-style which would’ve been the most awesome bit in the entire movie, if it weren’t for the scene that follows: Stan & Ollie escape the warehouse and are chased by the rest of the dogs. They run through some loading docks full of incoming/outgoing shipments of fruits and vegetables, and one of the dogs figures since he’s not gonna get this chance again, he grabs a head of lettuce and takes off with it. I’d post a better pic but my VLC is acting up like a young Jason Reitman at a Beethoven script meeting.

So Jones and his henchmen get thrown into the slam for fucking around with dogs, with the help of the Newton family offering damning testimony. Everything’s happily ever after for Charles Grodin, Bonnie Hunt, Emily Newton, Ted “Hipster Ariel Glasses” Newton, and most importantly, Beethoven. But if you give a shit about that chick Ryce, well, check this out: the Newtons end up on the local news, and as a result, Ryce gets a phone call from Mark, which totally makes her night, I’m sure. She thinks he’s fallen for her, but c’mon, we all know what’s up; Mark called her right after seeing her on television, which obviously means he’s a star-fucker. Poor girl, she’ll learn eventually.

In conclusion, Vote Phoebe!

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