Disney // 2008 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // March 9th, 2009
The greatest chihuahua movie of all time.
Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween) is a wealthy woman living in Beverly Hills. Viv has a beautiful home, an expensive car, and lots of valuable things, but the only thing she truly loves is her chihuahua, Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore, Everyone Says I Love You). Viv and Chloe go everywhere together in Beverly Hills, but when the time goes for Viv to go on a business trip to Europe, a sitter must be found. Viv hires her niece Rachel (Piper Perabo, Cheaper by the Dozen) to look after Chloe for a couple of weeks. Piece of cake, right? Alas, Rachel is not accustomed to the sort of high-maintenance lifestyle that Chloe is used to, and gets tired of all the four-legged costumes and puppy pedicures very quickly.
Rachel needs to get out of the house and have some fun, so she and a few gal pals decide to head down to Mexico to have a party. Rachel drags Chloe along with her, which proves to be a big mistake. Chloe gets dognapped by some very evil men. They're planning to throw her into the dogfighting ring, where she will undoubtedly be destroyed by the savage El Diablo (voiced by Edward James Olmos, Blade Runner). Chloe is rescued by the heroic Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia, The Pink Panther 2), a German Shepherd and a former police dog. Chloe may be out of her cage, but can she find her way home? While Rachel and an eager chihuahua named Papi (George Lopez, Balls of Fury) attempt to rescue the lost doggy diva, the evil dogfighting thugs send El Diablo on the trail of the valuable little canine. Who will get there first?
Like everyone else, I was a little appalled when I saw the first theatrical trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Little Taco Bell dogs doing a great big hip-hop-rock-pop musical number on some ancient Aztek ruins? Yikes! It looked appalling, as did the second preview featuring a chihuahua version of Che Guevera. Even so, both previews held a morbid appeal. I couldn't help but wonder: "What on earth is this talking chihuahua movie about?" I should have known that neither scene actually appears within the feature film, which is a thoroughly generic and routine Disney movie that hasn't got a single original bone in its body. Chi-wow-wa!
Beverly Hills Chihuahua is hardly the worst film of recent times. It's slick, well-polished, and has a few nice lessons for the kiddies. The youngsters will surely enjoy seeing all the talking puppies, and the fart jokes are pleasantly kept to a minimum. Adults will find it a banal viewing experience, lacking the heartfelt warmth of something like Babe or Homeward Bound but still less grating than Alvin and the Chipmunks. There is ample opportunity here for a satirical jab at the lifestyle of the purse puppy Beverly Hills crowd, but you will not find such swipes in Beverly Hills Chihuahua. This movie is politically correct and cautious to the core, absolutely afraid of offending anyone for any reason. No Paris Hilton jokes here. It goes so far at times that the filmmakers alter the personalities of the characters. Chloe, a mean-spirited, selfish, and nasty dog who never has anything nice to say about anyone, suddenly turns into a sweetheart when she starts talking about Mexican culture. Looking at skeletons running through the streets during a Day of the Dead ceremony, Chloe says tearfully, "Wow, it's so beautiful!" Surely this is included to convince young viewers that they have absolutely no reason to be creeped out by spooky skeletons wandering the streets. Chloe quickly returns to character moments later.
A very talented voice cast was selected for the film, and the players deliver their predictable lines with snap and vigor. Luis Guzman, Placido Domingo, George Lopez, Cheech Marin, Edward James Olmos, and Paul Rodriguez all seem to be having a good time, while Andy Garcia actually manages to bring a gruff gravitas to his amusing "dog cop with a troubled past" role. Drew Barrymore is fine as Chloe, but rarely seems capable of offering the mean-spirited aspects the part requires. As for the human characters, Jamie Lee Curtis and Piper Perabo need to do nothing more than look happy to be interacting with cute little chihuahuas.
The film is blessed with a very strong hi-def transfer. This is a very colorful film visually, and the image really does pop with brilliance on occasion. While the CGI becomes painfully evident at times, there are some visually impressive sequences that really benefit from being shown in hi-def. Blacks are nice and deep, and the level of detail is strong throughout. I have no complaints here. The audio is similarly impressive, as the pop-heavy soundtrack really gets a rich boost here. The soundtrack does it's best to give the movie a sense of audio pizazz, while the somewhat less aggressive sound design blends nicely with the dialogue. Still, this is a lightweight comedy, and the only time your subwoofer will jump into action is during a few noisy song selections.
Disney really delivers in the extras department, offering several hi-def exclusives. Let's start with the stuff that is also included on the DVD: an audio commentary with director Raja Gosnell, a 3-minute "History of the Chihuahuas" animated short, and a 3-minute blooper reel featuring dogs doing silly things. The rest is exclusive to this disc. "Pet Pals: The Voices Behind the Dogs" (seven minutes) is a quick look at the voice cast, "Hitting Their Bark: On the Set With the Dogs of BHC" (13 minutes) is a somewhat interesting look at working with animals, and we also get 25 minutes of dull deleted scenes. This disc is equipped with BD-live.
Of course I'm not going to actually recommend Beverly Hills Chihuahua to the average viewer, but the fact of the matter is that the movie simply isn't awful. It's just typical. If you're going to go for it, you might as well go for the Blu-ray disc, which offers more extras and a very strong transfer.
This dog is guilty, but the sentence will be reduced if the defendant vows
not to make Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2: Electric Doggy-Doo.
Review content copyright © 2009 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Animated Short