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Beethoven's 5th
2003 - G - 91 Mins.
Director: Mark Griffiths
Starring: Dave Thomas, Daveigh Chase, John Larroquette, Faith Ford
Review by: John Ulmer
   
If it's painful to watch, if it's stupidity personified, if it's ridiculously stupid and totally unnecessary...then chances are it's a "Beethoven" sequel.

I liked the first "Beethoven," even though a lot of people didn't. For what it was, I found the film to be a good waste of time. A top-notch cast (Charles Grodin is one of my favorite character actors), a fun script (co-written by John Hughes under the pen name of Edmond Dantes, the character from "The Count of Monte Cristo"), and a good sense of silly behavior. Yeah, it was contrived and sentimental. But aren't most family films?

Then came the unnecessary but watchable "Beethoven's 2nd." Grodin and co. had returned, but the outcome was regrettable. (It also featured the smartest dog ever -- he even brought his newfound mate popcorn in a movie theater!)

We had hoped for a number of years that the Newton family would not be returning. Well, they did and they didn't. Out with Charles Grodin and co. (who had stopped making films after "Clifford's" box office failure). In the year 2000, "Beethoven's 3rd" hit the video stores in a last-ditch effort for Universal to somewhat revive the series and cash in on helpless, unsuspecting kids (and parents) -- the kind you see in Wal-Mart who beg their bankrupt parents for a crappy kids' movie. The parents, who are already so far behind in mortgage payments they frankly don't care anymore, throw the film in the shopping cart. The kid gets home, watches it, and tosses it into a pile of other Disney-type cash-ins. (Remember "The Lion King 2"? "Cinderella 2"? I shudder at the thoughts.)

The Newtons are back, in a sense. But because Grodin (his career now depleted) refused to return, Universal simply threw together a weak plot that had the "real" Newtons going on vacation in Europe (aren't at least two of their three kids out of home by now?), and Reinhold filling in as Newton's brother, who got the thankless task of babysitting Beethoven.

Now we get "Beethoven's 5th," a film so incredibly poor that even Judge Reinhold -- king of made-for-video/TV films of the past decade -- didn't return for this sequel. Instead, "SCTV" veteran Dave Thomas, the man unfortunate enough to be born without a personality, was handed a very weak script that has one of the Newton kids (played by Daveigh Chase, who voiced Lilo in Disney's "Lilo and Stitch") visiting her uncle Freddy (Thomas) after "leaving" a summer camp.

Freddy lives in Quicksilver, a weird town out west were everyone is abnormal -- from the man who fears the world's ice caps will melt to the librarian with an odd fascination for cats. There's a backdrop with old bank robbers and a ten-dollar bill being stolen, as well as a devious John Larroquette character that is more or less a carbon copy of his poor villain Van Dough in "Richie Rich." We know he's the bad guy. It's just a matter of time until we find out. And trust me, when we do, it doesn't make any sense.

There are a lot of problems with "Beethoven's 5th." Apart from the awful direction, cheesy screenplay and weak plot, the film doesn't exactly come across as sweet -- or smart -- as it would like to be. I have my doubts as to whether anyone on the set of "Beethoven's 5th" assumed they were making a film to rival "Citizen Kane," but honestly...

One major problem is Uncle Freddy, whose distant relation may indeed be Freddy Krueger, as he is not a very good role model for any child -- he picks a door lock on a closed building and enters with the children, gets arrested for drinking and driving, and generally acts like an immature toddler -- especially the way he follows his niece and her friend around town all day looking for ghosts in freakin' closed down goldmines (which are, by the way, extremely dangerous). And in one of the most regrettable scenes of the entire motion picture, Freddy takes a firehouse and -- get this -- squirts powered bursts of water through his kitchen in order to rid the floor of trash. "I had tiles laid down so I could do this," he says. I don't even want to think of the ideas that this film must give small children who are trying to look for a quicker way to clean up their rooms.

I realize that these films are primarily intended for children, but any film that boasts it is a "family comedy" and proceeds to rip off helpless kids into buying products from expired merchandise series is in desperate need of some slandering. Honestly, Universal is milking the "Beethoven" franchise for all it's worth. Regarding "Beethoven's 5th," someone wrote: "Beethoven wrote nine symphonies. I hope this is the last." So, my friend, do I.

I never thought any sequel entry in this franchise could be any worse than "Beethoven's 3rd" and "4th." But alas, "Beethoven's 5th" is, in fact, not only the worst of the franchise in more than ways than one, but also one of the worst films I've ever seen. (And I'm the guy who's seen "Pod People" and "Angels Revenge"!)

Why, I asked myself after seeing this film, do I continue to torture myself with these endless sequels? Why do I permit my mind to bear witness to such atrocities? I honestly have no idea. This "Beethoven" franchise is "Police Academy" all over again. Endless sequels inspired by a film that didn't even make very much money in the first place. What's next: "Gigli 2"? Good Lord, I just hope they don't try to resurrect "Howard the Duck."

This series has gone to the dogs.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Offensive and completely without value.  Should never have been released.
  0 out of 5 stars

 
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