Beverly Hills Chihuahua
Directed by Raja Gosnell. Voices by Drew Barrymore, Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez, Plácido Domingo, Edward James Olmos, Loretta Devine. Starring Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Urie. (2008, PG, 85 min.)
REVIEWED By Margaret Moser, Fri., Oct. 10, 2008
If you are an adult going to see this film solo or with a peer, you deserve every tired cliché trotted out in Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. But if you or your moviegoing companion are anywhere within whistling distance of adolescence, you’ll howl at this lowbrow, family-friendly trifle. The plot … well, the plot plays as preposterously as the title suggests when Aunt Viv (Curtis), an L.A. make-up maven, entrusts her spoiled, designer-clad Chihuahua, Chloe (voiced by Barrymore), to her niece Rachel (Perabo). The niece prefers dashing across the Mexican border for the weekend with her girlfriends to overseeing the dog’s ritzy round of beauty treatments and spa appointments. Naturally, the prissy pooch gets lost, and naturally, a string of characters emerges to assist in Chloe’s return, including Aunt Viv’s studly landscaper, Sam (Manolo Cardona), and his Chihuahua, Papi (voiced by Lopez). Papi is in love with Chloe, you see, while Sam and Rachel butt heads with predictable results. Assisting in Papi’s ardent chase are a German shepherd (voiced by Garcia) retired from the police force and the slapstick buddy team of Manuel the rat (voiced by Marin) and Chico the iguana (voiced by Rodriguez) for over-the-top comic relief. The CG effects are fairly irresistible as is the enormous canine cast, especially when Chloe encounters Montezuma “Call me Monte,” king of the Chihuahuas (in Mayan pyramids hundreds of miles from Tijuana) and gets in touch with her inner chiquita. When the miniature doggie horde starts chanting “no mas!” the grownups in the audience will feel much the same; fortunately, the end is near. Family movies appear to have taken a back seat recently to whatever film Judd Apatow is making, but director Gosnell has a golden touch with all-ages cinema (the Scooby-Doo franchise and Yours, Mine & Ours) that makes Beverly Hills Chihuahua a silly, if guilty, pleasure to watch. Oscar material? Nah, it won’t even be thrown a bone, but this time the dog wags the tale and proves, at least to Papi, that love really is a bitch.