Reasons I went to an 11 a.m. showing of Beverly Hills Chihuahua today:
1. It’s the No. 1 movie in the country.
2. It’s a slow news day, and I have a blog shift.
3. I’m fascinated by bad ideas, and I was certain this film was one. (Read EW’s official review.)
4. I hadn’t thought about how I’d feel handing my ticket to an usher.
That is the story of how I ended up being one of eight adults, each sitting alone, in a theater in Times Square, watching a film starring live-action talking dogs and Coyote Ugly‘s Piper Perabo. But here’s what’s really unfortunate: THE MOVIE DIDN’T TOTALLY SUCK.
As you might have gathered from the trailer, the film follows spoiled Beverly Hills Chihuahua Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), who ends up in Mexico with Rachel (Perabo), the irresponsible niece of her out-of-town owner (Jamie Lee Curtis). What you don’t know: Chloe gets kidnapped by men running a dogfighting outfit and ends up in the ring with the evil Doberman Diablo (voiced by Edward James Olmos). A German Shepherd named Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia) saves her and reluctantly agrees to help the lost dog get found. This isn’t an easy task, even though the police have, for some reason, agreed to help Rachel, her aunt’s hot gardener, and the gardener’s lovestruck Chihuahua, Papi (voiced by George Lopez), look for Chloe. Diablo and his master are always on Chloe’s tail, you see, and Chloe is naive: She gets conned by a rat (voiced by Cheech Marin), who, for some reason, wants her diamond collar. (Seriously, what was he gonna do with it?)
Anyway, there aren’t many laughs in the film — unless you count the dramatic, ominous close-up shots of Diablo running; or the playing of Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” as Papi looks out onto a city where his love has gone missing; or me, almost getting misty when Delgado, a former police dog who was fired because he psychosomatically lost his sense of smell after a bust gone bad, gets offered his badge back in the end. But I don’t know that there’s supposed to be. I think the film wants to teach kids
about dogfights? about kindness toward animals, which means not putting their paws in booties. (Apparently, dresses, however, are totally fine, since Chloe is still wearing one of those when she’s finally back in Cali. Did she not hear Monte, the Placido Domingo-voiced leader of the Chihuahuas who rescue who her from mountain lions, when he said that Chihuahuas are not toys or fashion accessories?) The movie also wants kids to know that even the tiny can be mighty if they find their own bark/voice, and that loyalty, like the kind Papi shows to initially unreceptive Chloe, is of greater value than looks or money. How do you make fun of that? (Especially when this production number isn’t even in the film?)