Sounds horrible: a comedy about a big shaggy dog which wins the love of a suburban family by destroying their home. Things start out badly when baby Beethoven (a St Bernard so named for his musicality) piddles on a pet shop patron before the credits are finished. Mercifully, the excrement gags are soon exhausted and things take a turn for the better, thanks largely to the sublimely sour-faced antics of Charles Grodin as dad, a neurotic dog-hater who markets air-fresheners for a living. Elevated from the doldrums of Digby-esque sentimentality by a surprisingly bouncy script, the film is also redeemed by regular interludes of acerbic dialogue and a brace of fine supporting performances (notably David Duchovny as a slimy yuppie git who says 'Ciao, bello!' and criticises the cappuccino).

By: MK

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