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beverly hills chihuahua
THE STUDIO GATE
Oh Raja. It could've been so much better! "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" could've been a sweet little movie about a Chihuahua with a big heart. Instead, it's a movie about a spoiled little pooch we don't begin to care about.

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. This is a review on the DVD.

Now that my family officially has a Chihuahua puppy, much to the delight of my daughter, I can see how people get attached to these playful little dogs. They're tiny with a giant heart. Loyal, often hilarious, Chihuahuas can win your heart. Unfortunately, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" doesn't do that, despite how the movie was advertised.

It's hard to resist a little dog with a big personality. Who could resist such a charming dog like Papi (George Lopez)? He's loyal as they come and he's got love in his heart for a spoiled rich Chihuahua, Chloe (Drew Barrymore). And that's where the movie runs out of Chihuahua energy.

Lopez's voicing of Papi is so charming, so heartfelt, you wonder why director Raja Gosnell settled for a weak storyline that involves Chloe getting lost in Mexico. Okay, I get the the whole finding your roots concept. I get the rich girl (in this case, a dog) redeeming herself by throwing out the spoiled brat personality for reality. But that very concept, even if human actors were involved, is so thin. Who really cares for a spoiled debutant who's waited on hand-and-foot? Who cares if she eventually finds herself? She's not very interesting in the first place. Papi is the real core of the story. He has heart and personality. He's got love for Chloe. As the movie portrays her, she has no interest in Papi. What does he see in her?

Gosnell has received a lot of flack from critics for his direction of movies like "Scooby-Doo" and "Big Momma's House." For some reason, he favors thin storylines and weak & annoying characters. He likes to put in pop songs in a scene to make up for the lack of substance within the screenplay.

I'll admit when I saw the original trailer for "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," I thought the concept looked promising. How could you go wrong with singing Chihuahuas? Then the second trailer appeared with the scenes of Beverly Hills and talking dogs. Okay, I can still buy that. Then I saw that Raja Gosnell directed it. Oh no. It's not that I have anything personal against the guy. I just don't think he makes very good movies. In his defense, I will say that "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is better than his previous films (even "Scooby-Doo 2" has its merits). But it's a movie that shows little regard for a good screenplay or originality.

Among the more annoying characters in the movie is Rachel (Piper Perabo). This girl is clueless and I don't buy her sudden desire to be responsible for Chloe. I also didn't like her talking down to the gardener, Sam (Manolo Cardona). The movie eventually strives to be racially sensitive, but this short scene shows the shallowness of the script and the ignorance of the filmmakers. Sam does show Rachel her ignorance, but why was it necessary to have such a scene? It certainly doesn't make me like her character any more when she supposedly redeems herself.

The movie continues on with some racial stereotypes, though I'm not harping on the film for that. I'm sure that if something was offensive, actors like Lopez and James Edward Olmos would say speak up about it. I'm no activist, so I won't stand up on a stage and cry about this movie's occasional stereotypes. I'm a quarter Mexican, so I can enjoy a few Chihuahua or Mexican jokes. I mean, come on, the praying dog in the Mexican doggie jail was pretty funny.

The movie isn't a total loss. It's not terrible like Gosnell's other ventures. It just doesn't try hard enough. Papi is the single character in the film that I genuinely liked. He's a sweetheart and I would've enjoyed a movie based around him. Lopez puts his personality into this little dog and his scenes are the most enjoyable. The rest of the movie with Chloe, not so much.

The visual effects of making the animals talk isn't anything extraordinary, but it works for the kiddies. The other animals, like the talking lizard, look too computerized. But that doesn't matter. My kid loved 'em and this movie.

I will say that the short, "Legend of the Chihuahua" would've made for a nice feature. It's wonderfully animated and it's very charming. I wanted to see more! It's pretty bad when a cartoon short is better than the feature film.

According to iMBD, the movie received a paltry 2.6 rating. The movie isn't that bad. But it ain't good, either. Maybe a direct-to-DVD sequel could redeem the story of a Chihuahua with a big heart. This time, focus on Papi, the Lover Dog.    

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: BVHE. All rights reserved.
DVD Quick Glimpse
cover





MOVIE

Cute movie, but could've been a lot better had it focused on Papi instead of the spoiled Chloe

TALENT
Director: Raja Gosnell  

Cast: George Lopez, Drew Barrymore, Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis 

FEATURES
Cute cartoon short, bloopers and more

RATING
PG

DVD
Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good

GEEK OUT
How'd they get those Chihuahuas to talk?

TECH SPECS
Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

DVD RELEASE DATE
March 3, 2009
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