In Disney's unabashedly silly talking-dog movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua
, Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), the ridiculously spoiled title pet, is swept away from her comfortable 90210 existence, when the impulsive niece (Piper Perabo) of her wealthy owner (Jamie Lee Curtis) combines dog-sitting with a vacation in Mexico. When Chloe gets lost south of the border, her scrappy Chihuahua admirer, Papi (voiced by George Lopez), embarks on a mission to bring her back home. While Chloe's pint-size dog in shining armour searches for his posh crush, she must contend with the rough-and-tumble side of life, learning a few important lessons along the way. Directed by Raja Gosnell, who is no stranger to dog-themed live-action/CGI flicks, Beverly Hills Chihuahua
is an amusing diversion that is custom-made for canine lovers. Barrymore and Lopez are pitch-perfect in their vocal performances, and they are ably assisted by a bevy of Latino talent, including Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, and Cheech Marin. Although the film doesn't give its human actors a lot to do, it doesn't matter much, since the dogs are the reason for the entire show. In fact, the more the movie concentrates on its furry protagonists the more giddily entertaining it gets, as exemplified by a fun, fantastical doggie musical sequence that serves as Beverly Hills Chihuahua's
undeniable highlight.Stills from Beverly Hills Chihuahua (click for larger image).
Beverly Hills Chihuahua
finds director Raja Gosnell back on the talking-dog beat (following his live-action Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleased), this time in an ambitious, tongue-in-cheek comedy with a fun cast of onscreen and vocal actors. Piper Perabo plays Rachel, niece of a Beverly Hills eccentric (Jamie Lee Curtis) who spends much of her fortune pampering Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), a spoiled Chihuahua used to pacing through this world with booties on her paws. Chloe gets dog-napped while Rachel takes a vacation in Mexico, and finds protection from a misfit German Shepherd named Delgado (Andy Garcia), who has a painful secret in his past. The two get into and out of a lot of scrapes, trying to stay ahead of a vicious dog (Edward James Olmos) working for the head of an illegal dogfight gambling syndicate. Computer effects turn the film's many four-legged characters into talking critters capable of leaping onto train boxcars and leading the heroine into the Indiana Jones-like ancestral home of the Chihuahua breed. The comedy is crisp and kid-friendly, the story of Chloe rise out of silliness into canine authenticity, plus the film's surprising ambitiousness, are all very winning. --Tom Keogh