Miniature dogs may be the most annoying creatures on earth. At first I felt that way because they all tend to have that “yip-yip” bark that can drive any sane person crazy within seconds. Recently a new, more pronounced and powerful reason to hate them has emerged — the super rich dress them in horrendous costumes and parade them around like fashion accessories. I guess seeing these animals (and their pathetic owners) on the multitude of celebrity rag television shows on a daily basis isn’t enough, as someone decided they needed to be on the silver screen starring in their own movie: Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
The devil dog in question is Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore). She is a pampered Chihuahua living the life of luxury that 99.5% of us will never experience in our lifetime. But just as is the case with the majority of Disney films, there is a lesson to be learned. Chloe’s awakening occurs when her owner’s niece Rachel (Piper Perabo) takes her to Mexico for a long weekend of partying and loses her. Actually, Rachel doesn’t really lose Chloe; Chloe is dognapped by a ruthless dog-fighting gang led by Vasquez (Jose Maria Yazpik) who intends to use the pooch as a primer for his prize-fighting dog Diablo (voiced by Edward James Olmos). Coming to her rescue in the nick of time is an ex-police dog named Delgado (Andy Garcia) and countless other street dogs, who, after saving her life in the pit, promise to lead her back to “civilization”. So begins an adventure along the lines of Homeward Bound, during which Chloe comes to the realization that money does not make her any better than those without it . . .
Obviously, with Beverly Hills Chihuahua being a kid’s flick, none of the scenarios or characters have to make sense. But nonetheless, several of them don’t add up with the overall flow of the film and appeared to be little more than a way to increase the running time of the movie. As examples, a pack rat (voiced by Cheech Marin) and his iguana pal (voiced by Paul Rodriguez) set about to steal Chloe’s diamond collar. After their initial attempt, why are they given recurring scenes? Their Timon and Pumbaa schtick is out of place and unfunny. Another is when Chloe and Delgado run into an army of Chihuahuas who speak of their royal heritage and their mighty power. Aside from the beautiful scenery, who cares?
On the plus side of the fence, the voice talent of Beverly Hills Chihuahua is superb. All kidding aside, I had no idea there were so many Spanish speaking actors in Hollywood! Aside from Olmos, Garcia, Marin and Rodriguez, George Lopez, Luis Guzmà¡n and Plà¡cido Domingo (and others) lend their verbal talents — all that they were missing was Salma Hayek. Too bad they’re all mostly typecast into playing ragged Mexican critters though. Piper Perabo is enthusiastic (and a pleasure to look at) in her role as a girl that finds herself desperate to retrieve her aunt’s prized possession. Somewhere along the line I actually began to like her character and root for a good outcome for her.
In the end though, what does it matter what I say. Beverly Hills Chihuahua is meant for children and no matter what technical flaws I can point out, parents will still end up taking their kids to see the movie anyway. After all, kids are recession proof and if little Toby wants to see talking dogs then dammit give the kid talking dogs! Luckily for the older crowd, it turns out that the movie isn’t as mind numbing as it could have been.