Somewhere a Taco Bell ad rep must be preparing a lawsuit.
For a kids movie, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is more filling than a chalupa teaching kids about everything from the value of friendship to pet adoption.
From manicures, pedicures (or is that 'peticures') pampered pooch Chloe (Drew Barrymore) has anything a dog (or a human) could ever want, including a fawning Jamie Lee Curtis as cosmetics magnate Viv (bravely sporting the streaks of gray). Viv proves not only that 50 is the new 30, but that pocket-sized dogs are the new children. After all, dogs won't show up on Celebrity Rehab.
When Viv has to leave on business, the high-maintenance Chloe is left in the hands of her spoiled niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo). Chloe's lifestyle, wardrobe and itinerary doesn't sit well with her two-legged guardian, however. During a trip to Mexico, Chloe wanders off and it's up to Rachel, the gardener Sam (Manolo Cardona) and his Chihuahua Papi (voiced by George Lopez) to bring her back before she's found by a vicious dog fighting ring and Aunt Viv finds out.
Director Raja Gosnell takes what could've been a lightweight kid's film and gives it more bite than bark by mixing enough positive messages sprinkled in with the humor. Gosnell manages to balance the love stories of Papi and Chloe along with their respective guardians. While simplistically painting Mexico as a small country that you can completely traverse in a weekend, he does make sure the human characters are more than just props such as when Sam reminds Rachel that he's not a gardener, but a landscaper. Just as Sam tackles Rachel's racial stereotypes, so does the film try to relay to the audience that you can be "Tiny but Mighty."
The dog's voices are a virtual "Who's Who" of top Latin celebs such as Placido Domingo as Monte, a retired police dog with a secret who helps out the helpless and slightly annoying Chloe. George Lopez as Papi, who is head over heels for Chloe, delivers most of the gags, some funny...some cheesy such as "We're Mexicans...not Mexi-can'ts." But the kids I sat with loved it. The fact that the CGI used to show the dogs talking makes up for any questionable one-liners.
Art imitates life as the character of Papi was actually rescued from a shelter, a fact that was integrated into the film. As a matter of fact, pet adoption is a major theme of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" as several of Papi's new friends found new homes. Friendship, pet adoption and believing in yourself are messages just strong enough to make you forget the $8 popcorn.
Billy Tatum gives "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" 4 (out of 5) Scoops.
"Beverly Hills Chihuahua." MPAA rating: PG for some mild thematic elements. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes. In general release.