Movie Mama Rating: 3 out of 5
Starring: Drew Barrymore, George Lopez, Andy Garcia, Piper Perabo, Manolo Cardona
Directed By: Raja Gosnell
Running Time: 1 hr. 25 min.
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild thematic elements.
Genre: Kids/Family; Action/Adventure; Comedy
The dogs of Beverly Hills aren’t just pets, they’re companions, children, heirs and heiresses to multi-million dollar mansions, and Chloe the Chihuahua (Drew Barrymore) is no stranger to the elite lifestyle. Strutting her stuff in four different outfits a day, along with a Harry Winston diamond collar, she’s the creme de la creme. When her owner, Aunt Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis) must go out of town unexpectedly on business, Viv has no choice but to entrust Chloe with her niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo). But Rachel, the quintessential party girl, decides to flit down to Mexico for a quick get-a-way, and her selfishness and irresponsibility ultimately drive Chloe away. Lost on the streets, Chloe makes her way across Mexico with the help of several unique and whacky friends. Naive Chloe ends up learning a thing or two about herself and where she came from.
Yes, the plot-line is schmaltzy. Yes, it’s Disney. But honestly, I haven’t had this much fun with a dog flick since Lady and the Tramp. So what if it’s a little predictable? What children’s film isn’t these days? If you can look past those minor issues, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is actually a very funny film with amazing actors. And by actors, I mean the dogs! With extremely talented canines on the set, I can only imagine how fun this film was to create.
The CGI animation is first class, the voices are excellent, especially Drew Barrymore as Chloe, and there are some truly rib-tickling parts. Near the end of the film, I really started to care about Chloe and her predicament, and I even teared up a couple times. At times the pace seems to drag, but it picks right back up again. Really the only downside was the lackluster performances of the human cast: Piper Perabo as Rachel, Manolo Cardona as Sam Cortez, and others. Their lines fall flat and aren’t very believable, and at times they just seem to know what their dog is telling them, resulting in several “Lassie” moments.
Kids can learn a few things about Mexican culture from this film (even if it is mostly the touristy side). Hundreds of Spanish words are interwoven in the script, you’re taken on a ride through several major Mexican cities, as well as the countryside. You even get to see a few breathtaking Aztec ruins.
Disney has always been good at showing the importance of friendship and diverse culture. In this film we see a respect for traditions and a pride of knowing where you came from.
Rachel turns from a bratty and selfish college girl into a responsible adult throughout the film. The transition is a bit forced (after all, the only reason she initiated the change was because she felt guilty for losing Chloe), but the meaning is still there. We’ve all made selfish decisions that have turned out disastrous. The important thing is how we react to such mistakes. Rachel ultimately does the right thing, which in turn opens her eyes to a whole new way of thinking.
The “bad guys” in the film are the proprietors of a dog fighting ring, which brings the inhumane and deadly sport to light. Of course in a PG film, the sickening realities of the sport could not fully be expressed, so the scenes are watered down as well as comical. However, I think kids of all ages will understand how heinous the sport truly is.
Not a whole lot of cons here, except some parents may want to be forewarned that the song, “I’m Too Sexy” makes its way into the soundtrack, a few of Rachel’s outfits are a bit scant, and there are lots of people in beach attire (bikinis and bare-chested men). One of the dogs exclaims that she would love to meet a mate, “preferably one that isn’t fixed.” Papi the Chihuahua, voiced by George Lopez, tries to woo Chloe fairly aggressively, reciting love sonnets to her throughout the film. Though this is supposed to be cute and sweet, some parents may object to his form of courting and feel it is immodest.
Some kids might get the wrong idea about dogs and think they are meant to be dressed up and treated like dolls. It’s important for parents to discourage their kids from this kind of behavior after seeing this film. Also, even though viewers might fall in love with the Chihuahua breed, it’s important to remember that adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment, not a spur-of-the-moment material decision.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua might have a fluffy story-line, but it’s sure to leave most of you wagging your tails.