The title and trailers for Walt Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua probably made you either squeal with glee or groan with fear that your kids might actually make you take them to see it. I was in the groaning camp and after finally watching the movie on the newly released DVD, my fears were well founded.
I used to love those Taco Bell commercials with the Chihuahua saying “yo quiero Taco Bell.” Remember those? They were hilarious. Well…actually….they weren’t, come to think of it. They were kinda lame and annoying. Not unlike Disney’s talking dog movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
The movie, written by Alalisa LaBianco and Jeff Bushell, is a basic fish out of water story, only this time the fish is a spoiled, prissy Chihuahua that speaks through a CGI assisted mouth with the voice of Drew Barrymore. Chloe lives with, and is the doted on companion of, Beverly Hills cosmetics tycoon Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis). Curtis has to leave for Europe and leaves Chloe in the care of her party-girl niece Rachel (Piper Perabo, still doing penance for Coyote Ugly, I guess.)
Rachel immediately takes Chloe down to Mexico with some friends where the pampered pooch gets out and is “dog-knapped” by a dog fighting ring. Why a dog fighting ring would want a little teeny Chihuahua is anyone’s guess, but it joins the other gaping plot holes that are never quite answered. Rachel searches frantically for Chloe, aided by her Aunt’s hunk gardener (Manolo Cardona) and his Chihuahua, Papi (George Lopez), who has a very unrequited crush on Chloe.
Chloe’s dog-knapping adventure brings her into contact with a retired police dog named Delgado (Andy Garcia) and various other talking dogs (and rats) voiced by the likes of Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez, Placido Domingo (!), and Edward James Olmos. She escapes and makes her way around Mexico and learns about all the cool stuff there is outside the boutiques of Beverly Hills and also a little bit about the history of the Chihuahua.
There is not much new or unique or interesting for anyone over 11 or 12. The script carries over a lot of unfunny jokes like saying “you the dog!” in place of “you the man” and the like. Really, nothing that is supposed to be “funny” is that funny, unless you think a sassy black dog in a doggy salon or a dog in Mexico saying “we are Mexi- can not Mexi-can't” is hilarious. Chloe goes through a transformation, but it’s pretty predictable. The CGI mouths on the dogs are frankly annoying, but at least they don’t try to take the movie beyond the 90 minute mark. Just on the outside of the attention span of most kids who are interested in seeing this movie.
Small kids and those who own dogs that they carry in their purses will be all over this movie. The dog is pretty adorable but it will just be an annoyance to everyone else. If there is a good family comedy to be made about talking Chihuahuas, they will have to do a little better than this.
Although I don’t have a whole lot of good things to say about this movie, that doesn’t mean it won’t have fans and lots of them. If you enjoy the movie, you’ll probably be moderately pleased with the DVD. It’s not everything it could be, but it does have enough to be a decent compliment to the film.
First, you get one disc but two choices for the film, widescreen or full screen. As I’ve stated numerous times and will do so again here, you should never watch a movie in full screen if you have a choice. It doesn’t give you the full picture and it looks like crap, frankly. That said, you should have the choice without having to buy two copies and with this one you don’t even have to flip the disc over.
Director Raja Gosnell does a commentary that can only be accessed in the widescreen version. It’s perfectly satisfactory and discusses shooting with animals and shooting on location. He’s pretty uninvolving as a storyteller, but in the unlikely event that you are dying to hear the behind-the-scenes stories of this movie, he gets the job done.
The commentary is really the only behind-the-scenes info about the film. There is about 10 minutes of deleted scenes introduced by Gosnell. The scenes aren’t much but you do see what the dogs look like before their CGI animated lips are painted on. It’s funny to see the dogs just sitting there with no real expression on their face. A short blooper real (cleverly titled “Blooper Scooper”, oh, wait, that’s not clever at all) does have a funny little part with a dog that just will not stay when told to and keeps running out of the shot.
My favorite extra is a three minute animated short called “Legend of the Chihuahua.” The animation is pretty simplistic, but the narration is clever. It reminds me of those Goofy teaches you to drive or build a house or the rules of football shorts from days gone by. I would watch a whole movie in this style before I watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua again.
The DVD is not a good value only because it’s not a very good movie. The technical specs are strong and the picture is crisp with good sound (although sometimes the voice over actors are a little hard to understand). It’s just not a strong enough movie to recommend. Again, little kids and rich Paris Hilton types, will find this diverting. Everyone else should forget it and wait for the next Disney live action offering.