When I was growing up in the 60's Disney's live action films were
must-sees. The adventures of Herbie the
Love Bug and the antics of the Dexter Riley and his pals at Medfield College
were always filled with laughs and the danger was never too dangerous. While Disney still puts out family friendly
live action films, they generally don't have the same charm as their
studio-made efforts. Case in point: Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The
trailers made it look like an
all-singing, all-dancing dog spectacular, which might have been cute,
turns out to be nothing of the sort.
It's a lost-dog film that involves illegal dog fights in Mexico
a subject that just cries out for a kid's comedy) that substitutes
heart. At the end there's no real
emotional connection with any of the human characters and even the
are only vaguely interesting.
Chloe is the pampered, designer clothes wearing pet Chihuahua owned
Vivian (Jamie Lee Curtis), a rich cosmetic designer.
When Vivian's dog sitter has her baby three
weeks early and can't watch the precious Chloe while the designer is on
10-day European business trip, she wrangles her niece Rachel (Piper
caring for the love of her life. Handing
over Chloe's day-planner filled with play dates, dog birthday parties,
visits to the spa for seaweed wraps, Vivian takes off.
Irresponsible Rachel makes some effort to keep to the
schedule, but when her friends call up and invite her to go to Mexico
dancing, she throws the planner out the window and takes Chloe south of
Once there, Chloe gets upset at being left in the hotel
room, she wants to go dancing too, and manages to sneak out the door,
the elevator and escape! Outside in the
real world she doesn't last long before she's stolen and taken about
away to Mexico City
to be used in illegal dog fights. (Yeah,
they'd really want a Chihuahua, and
they did, certainly Mexico
has some.) Once in the fight cages, she
meets a kind German Shepherd, Delgado, who has lost his sense of smell. (He was once a police dog, but once he could
no longer track, he was "let go" which apparently means given over to
fights. Nice pension plan there.) Once Chloe is taken to the fighting pit,
Delgado decides enough is enough and opens his cage, releases the other
and saves Chloe. (Apparently the other
dogs that went to their death in the ring weren't worth saving.)
After Chloe is gone, the head of the dog fight organization
realizes that the diamond collar she was wearing means that she could
ransomed. (He can apparently tell cubic
zirconium from diamonds from across a room.)
So he puts a GPS collar on his most vicious dog, Diablo, and
out to track down Chloe. Will Chloe and
Delgado manage to escape and get back to Beverly Hills?
I went into this movie with exceedingly low expectations,
hoping for a few laughs at most, but this film failed to live up to
that. Even if you ignore the things that
adults would pick up on (the trite plot, the series of amazing
the abysmal geography, the fact that the dogs travel hundreds of miles
in a day, and the horrible dialog including "come with me if you want
live.") this still wasn't a very good film.
Most of the animals just weren't likable. Chloe
wasn't adorable, just spoiled and the
thieving rat, included as a comic relief, wasn't funny.
A lot of the plot points didn't make any
sense. Why would a rat want a diamond
collar? What could he do with it? Why did Vivian's landscaper travel to Mexico City to
Chloe? Did he really think he could do
anything? Why didn't Rachel just put the
dog in a kennel when she went to Mexico City? There
were questions that my 12 year old son asked while watching the film! That's the age group the film was aimed
too, since it's rated PG. You would have
thought that they would have gone for a G rating if they were after a
The worst offense that this movie commits is the message it
tries to relate. At one point Chloe is
lost in the desert and she encounters a group of wild Chihuahuas.
They take her in and the leader gives an impassioned speech
about how Chihuahuas
may be small,
but they are still mighty. He says that
as a breed, they'll no longer allow themselves to be treated as fashion
accessories. (To which the teaming crowd
replies with a chant of "No Mas!") They
aren't to be carried in bags and dressed up like dolls!
And that humans can't take their dignity! This
was a nice theme about remembering where
you came from and standing up for yourself.
And though Chloe claims to take this to heart, at the end she
ALL of that and goes back to her old ways.
Yeah, great message.
The movie isn't really a comedy either (as the trailer
implies.) There are a couple of moments
that are supposed to be funny (the piņata running around the
store for example
and that stupid rat) but this is an adventure film that lacks drama,
because it's so hard to care for any of the characters.
If this was the first Blu-ray disc I had ever seen, I'd
probably be pretty impressed. As it is,
this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 2.40:1 image looks good but not outstanding. The level of detail is good and the blacks
were fine. Some of the colors look like
they've been artificially boosted, especially when Rachael and Chloe
first go Mexico. The colors in the street scenes are just a
bit too bright. The film never has that
3D look that the best HD images do however.
On the digital side, things also look good.
Aliasing and banding aren't present, and
grain isn't a problem. A good looking
disc that has no real problems.
The DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 is a bit overkill for
this film. Aside from the music scenes
there isn't much to the film audio-wise.
The songs do have a nice range, but the subwoofer rarely gets
at the end when Chloe 'finds her bark' the low ranges are underutilized. The dialog is crisp and clear and every
irritating high-pitched squeak from the dogs is heard.
There's an audio commentary by director Raja Gosnell that's
pretty much a waste of time. If I had
enjoyed the movie maybe I would have appreciated the commentary more,
but as it
is I was pretty underwhelmed. He talks
about working with dogs and filming in Mexico, but nothing he said
As for the video features, the disc starts out with Legend
of the Chihuahua
a three minute animated (badly) short about the origins of the breed
they signed the Declaration of Independence.
That's followed by Pet Pals:
Voices Behind the Dogs (9 minutes) a worthless fluff piece where
actors get to gush about how great it was working on the film. Next up is a 13 minute look at how the dogs
were treated on the set in Hitting
On the Set with the Dogs of BHC.
This is a little better, but not much.
If you've ever wondered if it would be hard working with so many
animals, the answer is "yes."
There are 25 minutes worth of deleted scenes, all of which
deserved to be on the cutting room floor.
We also get a painfully unfunny gag reel, Blooper Scooper, which doesn't
actually include many bloopers. It might
have been funny to hear one of the voice actors mess up their lines,
is mainly scenes of animals not following their cues.
A trainer says "sit" and the dog takes a step
forward. If that sounds like
knee-slapping comedy to you, you'll enjoy it.
Finally this disc is Blu-ray Live enabled, though there
wasn't any content available at the time of this review.
Has there ever been any interesting Blu-ray
Live material? I can't recall any.
This is just a kid's film.
Why be so hard on it? Because
there are bad children's films, and this is one of them.
It's not funny, the plot is very disjointed,
and the characters aren't' likable. When
all is said and done Chloe hasn't changed and is just as obnoxious as
beginning of the film. Add into that the
fact that dog fighting plays a significant role in the film (how'd you
explain that to a 6 year old?) and you've got a movie that just isn't
good. There are a lot of kid's films
involving animals that are good (Homeward Bound comes to mind.) You don't need to see this one.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.