BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA (2008)
Starring Piper Perabo, Manolo Cardona, Jamie Lee Curtis, Eugenio Derbez, Jose Maria Yazpik, Maury Sterling, Jesus Ochoa, Ali Hillis, Marguerite Moreau and the voices of Drew Barrymore, George Lopez, Andy Garcia, Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez, Placido Domingo, Edward James Olmos, Eddie Sotelo, Luis Guzman, Loretta Devine and Michael Urie.
Screenplay by Analisa LaBianco and Jeff Bushell.
Directed by Raja Gosnell.
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 85 minutes. Rated PG.
You don’t go to a talking dog movie expecting Oscar-caliber performances and writing, and you don’t get them in Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
However, if you take it for what it is – a cute little children’s comedy with rather broad lessons about love, friendship and self-worth – it is actually a surprisingly winning little diversion.
In a lot of ways you’ve seen it all before – a dog gets lost far from home and must travel long distances and endure hardships to get home. (You’ll be seeing it again really soon – from the same studio – in a few months when Disney releases the animated film Bolt.)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua gives this well-worn storyline a south-of-the-border spice (the talking dogs – even the ones who aren’t chihuahuas, all have Mexican accents) and an odd Viva Zapata! style class warfare subplot, but in general it’s just a pampered pooch who has to learn to live on the road with the help of the friends she makes on the way.
Drew Barrymore plays Chloe, the pampered Chihuahua of a Hollywood power broker played by Jamie Lee Curtis (didn’t she retire from acting a couple of years ago so that she could devote her time to raising her children?).
Chloe is one of those purse dogs – spoiled, yappy, stuck up and usually dressed in matching sweaters and little booties. She also has white fur while most of the other chihuahuas in the movie have darker brown fur – is this a little heavy-handed ethnic editorial comment?
One of these darker chihuahuas is Papi (George Lopez), the gardener’s dog who is always dirty, but is street smart and often declares his true love for Chloe, who just looks down on the working dog as beneath her.
When her owner has to leave the country, Chloe is left in the care of her niece (Piper Perabo), who takes her on a party weekend to Mexico and then loses the dog. Suddenly Chloe is left to her own devices and must make it back over the border with the help of a former police dog who left the force in disgrace (Andy Garcia). Meanwhile Papi, the gardener and the niece all head back down to Mexico to save the debutant dog.
None of this is really surprising (though a scene where they stumble on a lost land of chihuahuas comes close – mostly for all the wrong reasons). However, it is also mostly pretty entertaining.
It goes without saying that children will love Beverly Hills Chihuahua, but the nice surprise is that adults won’t be begging to get out.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 12, 2008.