(2008)3Jeremy WheelerA pampered talking pooch heads south of the border on a Disney-fied adventure in this cute and cuddly comedy sure to please the kiddies with light laughs and plenty of pups-in-costume eye candy. Though the trailer's in-your-face music number had parents writhing in agony, the good news is that the Busby Berkeley-ish scene is nowhere to be seen in the final film. In fact, Beverly Hills Chihuahua isn't nearly as annoying as the marketing made it out to seem. Basically a "finding oneself on the road" movie, the pic is filled with rousing four-legged foot chases through such varied locales as a quite tame underground dog fight club in addition to train cabooses and ancient temples -- each brimming with a lesson in friendship and self-discovery for the title's petite Chihuahua, Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore). Along for the ride is a motley cast of amusing animal characters, some looking to help (as with the Andy Garcia-voiced Delgado), as well as others seeking to take advantage of the lost rich pooch, such as the scam-artist fools Manuel the Rat and Chico the Iguana (voiced by Cheech Marin and Paul Rodriguez, respectively). The pic soars, however, whenever George Lopez's tough Chihuahua, Papi, is on the screen -- a rare instance when a voice performer elevates the CG-enhanced material to a point where one sorely misses them whenever they're not on the screen (ironic since he was the center of the movie's marketing campaign).
Lopez's firm grasp of the character is indeed magic. Not only are his serenades to Chloe highly reminiscent of Pepé Le Pew, but the funny little onscreen mutt provides oodles of entertainment simply by bouncing around the screen. Indeed, the cute factor is a big plus when one gauges one's reaction to the flick -- thankfully, that kind of appeal is inherently built into children, so for much of the movie, they'll be won over on the visuals alone. Not surprisingly, many of the best reactions will come when the picture isn't so concerned with being a film, but just plain being stupid, as in the doggie birthday party (complete with bouncing pooches on an airwalk, along with a bathing suit-clad bulldog on a Slip 'N Slide) or the laugh-out-loud "possessed piñata" scene. One can hardly fault the filmmakers with wanting to nail a good story; it's just that sometimes a little more silly can go a lot farther than just smidgens here and there.
The humans do tend to sit on the sidelines for much of the tale, as Piper Perabo and Manola Cardona not so surprisingly find love when they're not bickering and befriending more canine pals. Perabo, especially, is asked to perform a some embarrassing feats for the camera, yet it's doubtful that any of this material will be hitting her highlight reel anytime soon. Faring much better are the special effects that blend near-flawlessly with the coerced movements of the animals, combining to create a fine bit of family entertainment that's cute, cuddly, and at a few points, downright dynamic. Plus the movie comes complete with a nice little message for the wanna-be Paris Hilton "pooch in the purse" members of the audience -- whether their ears are open to Disney morality is anyone's guess, but at least Beverly Hills Chihuahua went there.
A pampered Chihuahua accustomed to the living the good life in glamorous Beverly Hills must rein in her heiress instincts and rely on the kindness of strangers in order to find her way back home after becoming hopelessly lost in Mexico. Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore) is a diamond-clad toy dog who favors traveling in her wealthy owner's purse over frolicking in an open park, and Papi (voice of George Lopez) is the kind of independent pup that she doesn't afford a second glance. When a vacation mishap leaves Chloe stranded in Mexico, the Chihuahua who doesn't speak a lick of Spanish must rely on street-smart German shepherd Delgado (voice of Andy Garcia) to guide her back home before she wanders any further south. Meanwhile, brave Papi races to the border intent on proving his love for Chloe by tracking her down and escorting her home in style. Along the way, Papi is joined by an enthusiastic pack of helpful pooches (voices of Luis Guzman, Plácido Domingo, and Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo) a pair of concerned humans (Piper Perabo and Manolo Cardona), an anxious iguana (voice of Paul Rodriguez), and a crafty rat (voice of Cheech Marin).