Cute and Doggone Exciting
Cheering, clapping, laughing, screaming. Am I talking about Congress celebrating passage of the Bailout/Rescue Bill? No, those are sounds from youngsters watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua (available March 3 on DVD) at the screening my husband and I attended. Never before have I witnessed a group of tiny kids respond so enthusiastically to a movie -- and I enjoyed their reactions almost as much as this oh-so-cute and amusing little comedy.
First, a disclaimer: I’m a sucker for films about dogs, whether they talk or not. But who could resist the adventures of a pampered Chihuahua as she tries to find her way back to Beverly Hills after becoming lost in Mexico? Drew Barrymore provides a darling voice for Chloe, who’s used to being dressed in fashionable outfits, eating gourmet meals, and sharing play dates with snobbish canines like herself.
Lucky for our heroine, she meets Delgado (voiced impressively by Andy Garcia), a German shepherd with street smarts and a reluctantly heroic nature. Although she doesn’t realize it at first, Chloe’s friends also include: Rachel (Piper Perabo), her owner’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) niece; a very handsome landscaper (Manolo Cardona); and a spunky Chihuahua named Papi (voiced by George Lopez) who just happens to be quite smitten with Chloe. It will take all their efforts to foil the dastardly villains out to capture Chloe, especially a vicious Doberman called Diablo (voiced menacingly by Edward James Olmos).
Will this dangerous escapade change Chloe’s spoiled personality? Will she find more depth in her character as she struggles to survive? No matter what your age, it’s great fun discovering the answers to these important questions during the film’s short 92-minute running time.
While I found the human actors -- except for Cardona (where has this charismatic guy been?) -- too over-the-top in their portrayals, the kiddies in the audience seemed to enjoy any and all exaggeration on screen here, so why complain?
Fortunately, director Raja Gosnell (Big Mama’s House, Never Been Kissed) moves the film along with a spirited pace by including lots of exciting action scenes. My favorite? Delgado chasing and jumping aboard a fast-moving train. Speaking of Delgado, I think the meshing of Garcia’s soulful voice with his animal character comes across as the best I’ve seen in movies like this. Delgado definitely deserves a movie of his own! Eat your heart out, Rin Tin Tin.
(DVD bonus features ihclude: Legend of the Chihuahua -- an animated short; bloopers and deleted scenes; audio commentary on the Widescreen version; Pet Pals: The Voices Behind the Dogs; Hitting the Bark: On the Set with the Dogs; and more canine capers. Released by Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Home Entertainment. Rated “PG” for some mild thematic elements.)