Sunday, July 15, 2018

DVD Review: Beethoven (family fare, St. Bernard pup and dog, slapstick comedy, exciting plot)

Beethoven, with Charles Grodin, Bonnie Hunt and Dean Jones and Chris the dog (Universal Studios, 1992/2009, 87 minutes)

A Classic Canine Classic!

DogEvals loved Beethoven when we saw it years ago and we love it all over again now. We may even watch it again soon. We guarantee your whole family will love it: young boys can’t stop guffawing at the clever slapstick (and the snot), young girls will identify with the older sister who tries for a boy’s attention, the whole family will love the dog, a St. Bernard they come to call Beethoven - from the day he was just a cute smart lucky little pup until he grew into a 185 pound dog.

Beethoven to the Rescue

In spite of Dad not wanting a dog, Beethoven eventually changes his mind by “saving the day” over and over again – he is one smart cookie.

He saves the little sister who falls into a swimming pool, he saves the brother who is being bullied, he arranges for a boy to finally notice the older sister, he saves the family business from being swindled.

And then there is the bad veterinarian from whom Beethoven himself needs saving. The entire movie is either cute, exciting, or adorable in parts.

Such a Hit!

Beethoven was such a hit that one sequel* after another came out (and yes, there is a Beethoven’s 5th!) but sequels are never quite as wonderful as the original. We would almost rather watch the original again!

Read More About it: 

First of all, everyone needs a dog named Beethoven so they can say, "Roll over, Beethoven!"

Celebrate the real Beethoven's birthday with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang on December 16.


*(Beethoven’s 2nd [1993],
Beethoven’s 3rd [2000],
Beethoven’s 4th [2001],
Beethoven’s 5th [2003],
Beethoven’s Big Break [2008](below, left),
Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure [2011] (below),
and Beethoven’s Treasure Tail [2014])

DVD Review; Ted (adult family fare? adorable Teddy bear, slapstick comedy, less than exciting plot, less than believable acting, less than stellar writing, love unbelievable, violence and vulgarity, rowdy language, partial nudity, racial and ethnic jokes, drugs, sexual innuendo)

Ted, with an older Mark Wahlberg and the younger Mila Kunis (Universal Pictures, 2012, 220 minutes, Rated R) Not Rated and Unrated versions also available.

The best part of Ted is the cover (and the car chase near the end, ending in Fenway Park [which came too late for those viewers who walked out]). We so looked forward to seeing this delightful teddy bear in action. I would still love to have my own stuffie Ted – but a silent Ted.

Violence, nudity, foul language, non-magic, kidnapping (well, OK, bear napping), profane language and gestures – what more could a young-at-heart immature “adult” ask for in a film to guffaw at with the guys, while guzzling, perhaps?

Still, Ted is one adorable teddy bear with a stylish silhouette like Winnie the Pooh.


The theatrical version (with documentary) plus the unrated version are bonuses on the DVD, along with a gag reel (these are never really funny).

A Tinkerbell Ending and Sequels. . . . 

Thunderbuddies for Life

A boy receives a teddy bear for Christmas, and, being bullied, needs a best bud. He makes a wish, which comes true – that his Ted becomes that best friend for ever and ever (and talks). Both the boy and the teddy are afraid of thunder (for life) but survive it when together as thunderbuddies - for life.

Later, the boy becomes a man living with a woman in a 4-year relationship, a triangle that doesn’t work – the man, the woman, the teddy. So, out goes the Ted. To be “bear-napped.”

Debate, Decision

DogEvals debated whether or not to post this review, for two reasons: it is not a dog movie and it is not an excellent review. We decided to go ahead for two reasons: we will immediately follow it up with a dog movie (Beethoven, a classic) review that is excellent plus this DVD was so successful that anything we say will be drowned out – there is already a sequel out plus Ted 3 came out last month (June 2018).

Monday, July 2, 2018

Book Review: The Official Guide to Living with DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space)

The Official Guide to Living with DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space) by Jessica Dolce (CreateSpace, 2015, 52 pages, $7.99)

Best Blog

“Notes from a Dog Walker” was a superbly funny, endearing blog a couple of years ago but blogs don’t seem to last, despite the fact that it remains on a webpage even though there is only one blog written - or even though life has become too busy for more than a couple a year. 

I loved "Notes from a Dog Walker" so when I heard Jessica Dolce was  speaking at a conference I was attending, DogEvals decided to purchase her book. I had missed her blogs and finally knew why she had not been posting – a book was being born!

Personality Plus

Ms. Dolce is quite the personality and has quickly become known around dog training circles and, even more so, in the world of dog walkers and dogsitters, no doubt. She gave the closing presentation at a recent animal behavior conference that was quite touchy-feely: many animal behaviorists are less touch-feely than analytical, with advanced academic degrees, so this may have caused them to stretch a bit – a good thing.

Back to the Book

The Official Guide. . . . it isn’t exactly, but since there is no official guide on this subject, I guess Dolce has as much right to the title as anyone. It certainly sounds professional and official and it is quite informative for the average newbie dog person.

The first chapter (lesson) defines DINOS which may be the major take-home lesson of the book. In essence, not all DINOS (dogs in need of space) are leash reactive: don’t forget those dogs who are recovering from surgery and need to take it slow and easy for a while but still want to go on walks, or the dog-in-training, or the blind dog or elderly canine and even service dogs (wearing an ID vest or not). This expands the definition of DINOS that we all need to remember so we will give them room (I cross the street with my dog to avoid any walked dog that I do not know, just to be on the safe side).

Eleven chapters later, you will have hope if you have a DINOS. You will have laughed and you will have a slew of references to help you and Fido, from websites to books and everything in between. Dolce defines various pieces of equipment to help you and your dog and gives their pros and cons (there is nothing wrong with a muzzle – that’s the first thing I teach puppies and the first thing we go over in my Red Cross Dog First Aid classes).

You can’t take a fence on a walk but you can take dog treats and spray deterrents in case you meet an off-leash dog. You can also take another person along for company (or just a cell phone). Page 22 tells you what to do if you see a loose dog or if that dog starts following you: these are things every person needs to know, even if they don’t have a dog.

And each chapter ends with a recap and some humor – don’t leave home without it!
The book will get you started and the DINOS website will reel you in with the most fun and varied information we have ever seen on a dog site. Do not miss it or you will miss out on additional interviews and articles for every chapter plus a support group. Dolce also has an online class and provides online coaching.

All of this will give you help and hope (and ideas for indoor exercise during inclement weather to boot!).

(Available at

Sunday, July 1, 2018

DVD Review, Canine Classic: Must Love Dogs (love and divorce, family, dogs, comedy)

Must Love Dogs, with Diane Lane and John Cusack (Warner Brothers, Rated PG-13, 1998, 98 minutes)

Where’s the Beef?

Dog on the cover, Dog in the title, but where’s the dog in the movie?

Dog is a very minor character. Actually Dog is a Westie who does not sit, come or lie down but will play dead at the drop of a hat. Dog is also Mother Theresa, a Newfie who is an adorable big bear of a dog with a slightly large screen presence (played by two Newfies*).

Both dogs have small roles: the smaller the dog, the smaller the role. Dogs do, however, permeate the flick on occasion with even a golden retriever jumping into a fountain in the final picnic scene – water!

Fun, Funny, Funnier, Funniest?

Having said all that, Must Love Dogs is a fun and funny movie replete with two new boyfriends (who will win the girl?), a dateless divorcee (too old for John Cusack?) with a huge Craftsman home I got lost in, a gigantic sum of siblings we couldn’t get straight and a wonderful father figure in Christopher Plummer with Stockard Channing as one of his girlfriends.

The Plot

The entire family is out to set up Diane Lane with a prospective mate by registering her on online dating services. One sister requests a prospect to be someone who ‘must love dogs,’ even though Lane has to borrow her brother’s Newfie to meet him, who also borrowed a dog, the Westie, to meet her, at an off-leash dog park.

It is a fun movie, perhaps not worth a second viewing for a while, unless you love Newfies and Westies!

*“No dogs were harmed during the filming of this movie. Though we were petted within an inch of our lives,” said the Newfies as the credits roll.