This is a 1992 family comedy about animal abuse, animal testing, and indirectly puppy mills that spawned seven sequels. You know, good wholesome family fun!
The movie opens with a couple thieves stealing puppies from a pet shops which, as most of us know, are generally supplied by puppy mills. It’s not the puppies’ fault, but you should really adopt a shelter dog instead.
One of the St. Bernard puppies escapes the thieves and wanders into the Newton family’s home. The father, George, doesn’t want to keep it but his wife and three children convince him. The youngest, a little girl named Emily, plays a portion of Ludwig von Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on their giant 90s sound system and the dog barks along, thus naming himself and proving that he’s more cultured than most Twitter users.
George is still uncertain about keeping the dog, especially as he gets bigger and more destructive around the house.
However, he changes his mind when Beethoven saves Emily from drowning after an irresponsible babysitter fails to notice that that she fell in the pool. Not wanting to be outdone by a dog for parent of the year, George relents and finally takes the dog in to see the vet for a checkup. Unbeknownst to George, the vet is actually the villain of the movie (gasp!) and is an awful animal abuser/experimenter who hired the two thieves at the opening of the movie to break into the pet store and steal Beethoven in the first place.
The vet warns George that St. Bernards are very dangerous and prone to violence. George takes Beethoven home, concerned for his family despite Beethoven never having displayed any aggressive behavior up to this point.
The vet later stops by the house under the guise of doing a follow up exam on Beethoven. When he thinks no one is watching, he rips his shirt sleeve, pours fake blood on his arm, and hits Beethoven until he attacks him. The family pulls Beethoven off the vet who insists that the dog has to be put down or he’s doing to press charges. Emily says that she saw the vet hit Beethoven but no one listens to her and instead, George takes away the beloved family dog to the vet’s office where the vet is doing his best not to prance around and laugh like a Bond villain.
When George returns home, his family abandons him at the dinner table because they’re all too disgusted to even look at him–including his wife.
George thinks about Beethoven some more and realizes that he probably made a mistake because the worst thing the dog ever did was make a mess around the house and save his daughter’s fucking life. He goes back to the vet to retrieve the dog but the vet tells him that Beethoven has already been put down. However, George notices that the vet’s arm is clear of bite marks and realizing the vet lied to steal his dog, he punches him but doesn’t call the police because movie logic, I guess.
Later, the whole family (because this is an appropriate family outing for three children) follow the vet to his evil lair of experimentation. George’s wife calls the police while George slinks around on the roof. Beethoven escapes without the help of the Newton family but is recaptured by the two thieves. The vet prepares to shoot Beethoven in the face because this is a goddamn children’s movie but is stopped George dramatically falls through the skylight without any lasting injury because movies don’t make sense. A once captive Jack Russel terrier prevents the vet from using the gun by biting him in the crotch because nothing lightens the mood of an awful situation like a good dick biting joke. The whole conflict is brought to a resolution when the otherwise unremarkable Newton son drives the family car with his two sisters into the warehouse.
When they crash inside, a tray of syringes “flips up comically” and all the syringes fly into the vet, who presumable dies from the overdose of whatever the fuck he was injecting into all those dogs.
The Newton family frees the remaining dogs and leave the warehouse while Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt are presumably mauled and/or killed by a pack of dobermans. Happily every after!
There’s also a subplot about David Duchovny and Patricia Heaton posing as venture capitalists to steal money from George or something. I don’t know, I was too preoccupied by the vet and his warehouse of horrors to care about Agent Mulder and Debra Barone.