For a while, the only sequels that would hit the direct-to-video market were no-budget installments of schlocky horror franchises. Recent years, however, have seen the rise of the opposite extreme, the animated feature sequel designed to earn a quick buck in the lucrative kidvid market.
Straight-to-tape sequels to live action family-targeted films are a fairly new phenomenon, and leading the pack is that mischievous St. Bernard, Beethoven, who hits the direct-to-video market for the second time in “Beethoven’s 4th.” The expectedly thin story has Beethoven switching places with a well-behaved lookalike named Michelangelo, who belongs to a rich family. Chaos ensues in Michelangelo’s posh household while Beethoven’s family, the Newtons, are perplexed by their pet’s newfound obedience. Not a single surprising note is hit in this film; if the thought of star Judge Reinhold splashing around in mud tickles your fancy, by all means watch. Otherwise, most people can live healthy lives without ever seeing this tired, uninspired piece of work.
The supplements for Beethoven’s 4th are similarly standard: production notes, cast and filmmaker bios, and a preview of another direct-to-video animated sequel, “Balto: Wolf Quest.”
Specifications: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; English and Spanish 5.1 Surround; French Dolby Surround; English subtitles.