Disney // 2008 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 9th, 2009
"Tiny, but mighty." -- Chloe, on being a Chihuahua
I remember seeing billboards for this film back in late summer of 2008. I knew it would be a hit, simply on the concept. Beverly Hills Chihuahua features pampered pooches who, through the magic of CGI, talk to each other and look cute in every scene. How could you go wrong? The only thing this film is guilty of is exploiting our love of dogs in people clothes, and not doing much more than giving us exactly what we'd expect. If you're here for sugary cuteness, then you're in the right kennel.
Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore, He's Just Not That Into You) is a Rodeo Drive fashionista Chihuahua, the prize possession of a cosmetics mogul (Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween). When her owner leaves the puppy in the care of her flighty niece (Piper Perabo, Cheaper by the Dozen), she is dognapped on a Mexican beach. In an unlikely twist, Choloe ends up in a dog fighting ring facing down a Doberman, but escapes with the help of a German Shepherd (voiced by Andy Garcia, Ocean's Twelve) who commits to heading north to get her home. Hot on her tail is the demonic black hound from the doggie Fight Club. Seems her captors want to hold her for ransom, and thus need to find our heroine first. Meanwhile, the niece is frantically searching for Chloe with the help of the gardner (Mexican soap star Manolo Cardona) and his Chihuahua (George Lopez, Balls of Fury). Along the way, the diminutive white pooch gets to journey through Mexico, discover her heritage, and learn a couple of valuable lessons. Plus, she looks super cute doing it!
Beverly Hills Chihuahua does what it does well enough, never aspiring to be more than a precious, family friendly dog movie. The humans make extended cameos, while the canines do all the heavy lifting. Anybody seeking a smarter than average Disney film suitable for adult sensibilities should give this one a pass, as there's not much sophistication to be found. The most clever Beverly Hills Chihuahua gets is a fanciful mythic lost civilization in Mexican ruins, made up entirely of small dogs who impart the wisdom "tiny, but mighty!" to the lost Chole.
If you like seeing doggies in sunglasses then this one works fine, and it's cute enough for dog lovers to embrace. It plays best with kids and Chihuahua enthusiasts. Jamie Lee Curtis is perhaps in three scenes, and the romance between the film leads is about as convincing as the talking dogs. You certainly don't want to sit through this show, unless you love puppies that fit in a purse.
The package comes nicely appointed with a fine technical transfer, surprisingly cinematic in scope. You can select either widescreen or fullscreen, both of which exhibit very few compression artifacts. Colors are earthy and somewhat muted. There are quite a few extras, but not nearly what you'll find on the Blu-ray edition. There's a trio of deleted scenes which offer us an extended peak at the film's best gag -- the Chihuahua's legendary beginnings -- although it's odd that when you cue up this feature it feels like you come in during the middle. Apparently, some deleted sequences are only found on the Blu-ray, so we just get a snippet of them here. Also included are genuinely funny bloopers featuring dogs and people not doing what they're supposed to. There's also an animated short offering further exploration of the Chihuahua legend, albeit brief and somewhat painful. Finally, we get a self-deprecating commentary from director Raja Gosnell (Scooby-Doo) who inventories all the changes made by test audiences, as well as the completely improvised performance of Jamie Lee Curtis. There is an easily found Easter egg in the bonus menu, giving you access to the theatrical trailer which features the "Chihuahua Song." It's cute, if you feel like hunting.
I was surprised these dogs were so civilized. Nobody marked their territory or sniffed each other's behind. Would it have been a better movie, if had the dogs been allowed to act more like dogs? No. My biggest beef is it's not smart enough to hold my attention beyond the adorable factor. I loved seeing the mutts strut their stuff, but the plot was too predictable and corny to be engaging. I guess I expect too much from talking dog movies, since Babe proved you could have smart, fresh communicative animals.
If you want a sweet gentle comedy to occupy the kids then certainly bring Beverly Hills Chihuahua home. It does offer some giggles, although adults expecting anything more than talkative canines will be sorely disappointed. It's simply a fluffy little live-action movie that passes the time without too much pain.
Guilty of being too cute for its own good. Any flick which features the line
"Talk to the paw!" and doggies dressed in couture is gonna go there.
Yep! Too damn cute.
Review content copyright © 2009 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Animated Short