As I sat down to watch "Beverly Hills Chihuahua", I thought a number of things, although the first thing that came to mind was: "Aren't talking animal movies so five years ago?" The second thing was praying that "Who Let the Dogs Out?" wasn't on the soundtrack somewhere. The film itself is handled in better-than-expected fashion by director Raja Gosnell ("Scooby Doo"), but this flea-bitten flick is likely to appeal only to kids.
The picture focuses on Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), the pampered chihuahua owned by cosmetics tycoon Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis). When Viv heads out of town, she leaves responsibility for the dog to her spoiled niece Rachel (Piper Perabo) - who, shortly after, takes the dog and heads to Mexico with pals Angela (Ali Hillis) and Blair (Marguerite Moreau). When Rachel is more concerned with going out on the town than watching over her dog, Chloe gets dognapped and thrown in a dogfighting ring (not very funny), only to barely escape, thanks to Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia).
Meanwhile, horrified by the loss of the prized pooch, Rachel tries to search for the missing pooch, helped by the police, Sam (Manolo Cardona) and Sam's pooch, Papi (voiced by George Lopez.) On her way back towards safety, Chloe encounters a rat/lizard team of con artists and a bizarre Aztec ruin (a stretch of the movie I actually appreciated because it was such an odd change-of-pace from the predictable rest of the story) full of chihuahuas. Of course, the bumbling dognappers also are on the trail, wanting to pick up the rich pooch again. The rest is a predictable tale with more than a bit of wacky adventure, slapstick and several cheeseball one-liners.
That's about all there is to the thin story, which feels stretched thin even at 91 minutes. Still, it's not all bad: Barrymore does what Perabo doesn't, and manages to turn her character from a spoiled brat into a mildly sympathetic one. As for the other performances, Garcia's rather good, but Curtis is clearly on-hand in a couple of scenes to collect a paycheck and Perabo doesn't succeed in making a one-dimensional character likable as the film goes on.
"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" isn't going to win any awards, but - surprisingly - it proceeded quickly and wasn't as hyperactive and loud as the trailers would lead one to believe it would be. Parents may want to start something else (Spring cleaning, perhaps?) while kids watch the film, though, as the film is largely targeted towards kids.
VIDEO: "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is presented by Disney in both 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan. The presentation quality of the anamorphic widescreen edition was generally first-rate, as only a few concerns presented themselves. Sharpness and detail weren't remarkable, but the majority of the film seemed at least moderately crisp.
Thankfully, flaws with the presentation were kept to a reasonable minimum: a bit of edge enhancement and a couple of traces of pixelation were spotted, but most of the film looked clean and clear. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults. Additionally, black level remained solid and flesh tones looked spot-on. While not an outstanding transfer, this still certainly qualifies as a satisfactory one.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is largely a "comedy mix", with limited use of the surrounds. Given the material, which is largely a story following a group of pooches, there's no real need for much in the way of rear speaker use - the surrounds offer a couple of effects, reinforcement of the music and some minor ambience during the outdoor scenes, but otherwise remain quiet. Dialogue sounded clear and well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Aside from a commentary from director Raja Gosnell, we get a few deleted scenes, the "Legend of the Chihuahua" animated short, gag reel and previews for other titles from the studio, such as Pixar's upcoming "Up".
Final Thoughts: "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" isn't going to win any awards, but - surprisingly - it proceeded quickly and wasn't as hyperactive and loud as the ads would lead one to believe it would be. Parents may want to start something else (an early start on Spring cleaning, perhaps?) while kids watch the film, though, as the film is largely targeted towards the younger crowd. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras.
The Film C