Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Now fully entrenched in the Newton household as one of the family, the beloved Saint Bernard is enjoying the best that life has to offer except for one very important thing: he’s lonely and needs to find love. The problem is solved when he spots a beauty across the park sporting a gaudy pink bow on her head, but upon closer inspection discovers that she comes with unfortunate baggage. Missy is the pawn in a divorce battle between Kevin Dunn and his vengeful ex-wife (a deliciously mean), and she is holding the dog hostage until he gives her the hefty settlement that she desires. Beethoven manages to spend some quality time with his new lady friend in secret and it isn’t long before the kids from his own house discover the couple in possession of some very cute Saint Bernard puppies (the timeline on which is confusing but kids won’t mind). Mazar discovers the little ones and is ready to throw them out until she realizes that they could fetch a high price, forcing the kids to take the babies into hiding despite the fact that it means separating them from their mother at a dangerously young age. Trying to sell their father ( ) on the idea of four more dogs in the house turns into another battle, until the whole family takes a vacation at a friend’s cottage and all the screenplay’s knots are untied through some ridiculous (but, in a family film, not entirely unwelcome) coincidences. Sprier in its plotting than the first film, this one continues the weird mix of unforced moments of adorable puppydom with some pretty nonsensical stunts, but improves on the original in its having a conflict that is much easier to swallow. Mazar has no end of fun playing a modern Cruella De Vil, and it’s a shame that the film doesn’t utilize her more than just having her scare the cast in the beginning and then return at the end, as she would make for better viewing than most of the film’s excuses to keep Grodin and (still great as his wife) front and centre. Mazar’s evil would also have provided a nice contrast with the coming of age subplot that focuses on daughter Ryce ( ); her disillusionment with a popular boy at school provides for the film’s biggest set piece, a fun bit of destruction that, somehow, the main characters don’t get into any trouble for.