Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Movie Information

The Story: A spoiled chihuahua is lost in Mexico and has to find her way back to Beverly Hills through much danger. The Lowdown: Admirers of talking dogs and those not bothered by rampant (and of variable quality) CGI may find this passable. Everyone else, be warned.
Score:

Genre: Talking-Dog Comedy
Director: Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo)
Starring: Drew Barrymore (voice), George Lopez (voice), Andy Garcia (voice), Piper Perabo, Manolo Cardona
Rated: PG

I’m not sure if I’m giving Beverly Hills Chihuahua a full star instead of the half star it probably deserves because the ersatz Busby Berkeley musical number in the trailer isn’t actually in the film, or because the sight of a small child being terrorized by an apparently living donkey piñata offered me some slight amusement. (That the piñata is actually powered by a CGI iguana and rat, voiced by Paul Rodriguez and Cheech Marin respectively, is an admitted downside.) In either case, it’s not like I’m recommending the film. Come on, it’s a talking animal picture, and talking animals are only funny in small doses, like in Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1945) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).

Beverly Hills Chihuahua is probably perfectly fine entertainment if you’re 4 years old. It also may satisfy viewers with a marked propensity to “ooh” and “ahh” whenever an animal shows up on a movie screen doing something one doesn’t expect an animal to do. For anyone else—at least anyone else who isn’t a blood relative of director Raja Gosnell, whose directorial career started with Home Alone 3 (1997) and has consistently maintained that tradition of quality—this is likely to seem like the longest 98 minutes ever spent in a theater. The fact that there’s approximately 20 minutes of actual plot plays into this.

The story focuses on Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), a pampered, snobbish Chihuahua belonging to a filthy rich cosmetics mogul (Jamie Lee Curtis), who also has a largely worthless niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo, The Prestige), whom Chloe casually detests. Contrivances contrive to make sure that Chloe gets left in the care of Rachel. This, of course, results in much mirth and finally adventure when Rachel—who appears to boast slightly less intelligence than your average turnip—takes Chloe on a vacation to Mexico where, gosh darn the luck, Chloe gets lost. The bulk of the film then follows Chloe’s trials and tribulations, while Rachel—with the aid of hunky gardener Sam (Manolo Cardona) and his moxie-filled, Chloe-smitten Chihuahua, Papi (voiced by George Lopez)—endeavor to find her.

Of course, all this is fleshed out with cute encounters various and sundry—like the Cheech rat and the Rodriguez lizard—to achieve feature-length status. Along the way, questions will be posed. Will former police dog Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia) regain his sense of smell and find redemption? Will Chloe learn the value of being a “real dog?” Will Rachel learn responsibility and fall for the hunky gardener? Will Chloe see what a diamond-in-the-rough the besotted Papi is? How many lame pop songs can be plastered onto the soundtrack? How many pop-culture references—“Talk to the paw,” “Say hello to my leetle friends” etc.—can be worked into the dialogue? Truthfully, only the last two qualify as questions. The rest are givens.

One’s tolerance for this will be predicated on a taste—or lack thereof—for talking CGI animals. I confess that mine is low to the point where I spent a good deal of the movie thinking that in less enlightened times those responsible for making animals talk would have been burnt at the stake as sorcerers. In the case of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, that’s why those times were known as “the good old days.” Rated PG for some mild thematic elements.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

9 thoughts on “Beverly Hills Chihuahua

  1. Sean Williams

    This film lost me with the title.

    Beverly Hills Chihuahua! — Because Our Marketing Committee Thought the Double Entendre was Clever!

    (Get it? It’s both a dog and a city in Mexico! Instant humor!)

    Well, instant humor is to humor what instant oatmeal is to oatmeal. The fact that this movie survived the proposal stage confirms my longstanding conviction that the current stable of Disney writers relies on L’eau de Nontoxic Magic Marker for “inspiration”.

    (That the piñata is actually powered by a CGI iguana and rat, voiced by Paul Rodriguez and Cheech Marin respectively, is an admitted downside.)

    Okay, I admit, I never expected to read that sentence. Anywhere. Ever.

    I spent a good deal of the movie thinking that in less enlightened times those responsible for making animals talk would have been burnt at the stake as sorcerers.

    Whereas in more enlightened times, those responsible would have been fed their own flaming entrails by a nude Ann B. Davis.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Okay, I admit, I never expected to read that sentence. Anywhere. Ever.

    Yes, but do you feel enriched in any way for having had the experience?

    Whereas in more enlightened times, those responsible would have been fed their own flaming entrails by a nude Ann B. Davis.

    This will probably only confirm how far sunk into moral depravity I am, but I am nonetheless moved to ask if we’re talking about Love That Bob era Ann B. Davis or Brady Bunch era?

  3. Sean Williams

    I am nonetheless moved to ask if we’re talking about Love That Bob era Ann B. Davis or Brady Bunch era?

    Neither. We’re talking TV Land Awards Ceremony-era Ann B. Davis:
    http://www.aolcdn.com/ch_celebrity/ann-b-davis-17292

    …And consider the resulting mental image retribution for the whole C.G.I. Cheech Marin iguana comment!

    This will probably only confirm how far sunk into moral depravity I am

    As though I needed confirmation.

  4. Ken Hanke

    We’re talking TV Land Awards Ceremony-era Ann B. Davis

    It would appear that age ensued.

    As though I needed confirmation.

    Perhaps not, but further validation is often comforting.

  5. Natasha

    I have a free redbox rental and I almost wasted it on this (because secretly, I want to use it on a crappy movie just because I’d never actually give real dollars for this sort of thing.) Your review, however, was entertaining enough (especially the last paragraph) and I think I’ll wait for something else to waste my freebie on. THanks for making me laugh until I couldn’t breathe :)

  6. Sara m.

    Beverly Hill Chihuahua
    ( Tiny but mighty boring)
    Kids might enjoy the movie because of the talking dogs, but to dog lovers it may be a disappointment. If they had high hopes of this being a cute movie. Unfortunately, what was once cute becomes an over-pampered, stuck-up, light-skinned Beverly Hills Chihuahua who gets lost in suburban Mexico. Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) is the snooty, spoiled pooch of a cosmetics (Jamie Lee Curtis) who likes to pamper her pet with designer clothes, diamond jewelry and days at the spa. Left in the care of her owner’s irresponsible niece Rachel (Piper Perabo), Chloe is whisked away to Mexico, where she promptly gets snatched by dog fight-staging criminals and winds up on the run with Ex- Cop, German Shepherd Delgado. Boring. Now if you want to watch it fine with me, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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