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While I won’t be extolling the brilliance of this direct-to-video production, I found BEETHOVEN'S 4TH ($25) to be very likable family fare. I found myself repeatedly chuckling the antics of the slobbering, disaster prone canine star of this family comedy franchise. In BEETHOVEN'S 4TH, we find the Saint Bernard star of the series now living with relatives, while his actual owners are out of the country for a very extended period of time… Although with a new family, Beethoven remains a continuous calamity in the making. When the parents talk about sending Beethoven off to a farm in the country, the kids covertly take him to obedience training. After a mishap in the park during his first lesson, Beethoven switches places with a well-behaved look-alike named Michelangelo. As quick as you can say "Prince and the Pauper" Beethoven is wreaking havoc in a wealthy household, while his counterpart’s good behavior comes as a surprise to one and all. The cast of BEETHOVEN'S 4TH includes Judge Reinhold, Julia Sweeney, Michaela Gallo, Joe Pichler, Matt McCoy, Veanne Cox, Dorien Wilson, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Kaleigh Krish, Mark Lindsay Chapman and Nick Meaney.

Universal Studios Home Video has made BEETHOVEN'S 4TH available in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. While not up to the best theatrical quality, Universal has produced a very nice looking presentation. The image is generally crisp and provides a solid level of detail. Colors are bright and well saturated, while the flesh tones are appealing. All of the hues are completely stable, with no signs of noise or smearing. Blacks are pure and the shadow detail is more than respectable. The film element used for the transfer is quite clean, although there is some appreciable grain in places. Digital compression artifacts remain well concealed throughout.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is a typical comedy mix, which is light on directional effects- particularly in the rear channels. However, music does seem to find its way into all of the outlying channels. Dialogue is clean and always completely understandable. The bass channel is adequate to the material, which doesn’t call for anything ground shaking. A Spanish 5.1 channel track and a French Dolby Surround track are also encoded onto the DVD. English subtitles are provided on the DVD, as well. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as production notes, biographies, plus a trailer for BALTO: WOLF QUEST.

As I said above, BEETHOVEN'S 4TH is fun family fare. The DVD looks and sounds quite good, so if you are inclined, you will want to check out BEETHOVEN'S 4TH on disc.


Beethoven's 4th


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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