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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Blu-ray)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Blu-ray)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG // March 3, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 1, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
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 earlier 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, but it turns out to be nothing of the sort.  It's a lost-dog film that involves illegal dog fights in Mexico (there's a subject that just cries out for a kid's comedy) that substitutes cheese for heart.  At the end there's no real emotional connection with any of the human characters and even the animal leads are only vaguely interesting.

Chloe is the pampered, designer clothes wearing pet Chihuahua owned by 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 a 10-day European business trip, she wrangles her niece Rachel (Piper Perabo) into caring for the love of her life.  Handing over Chloe's day-planner filled with play dates, dog birthday parties, and 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 for some dancing, she throws the planner out the window and takes Chloe south of the border.
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, operate the elevator and escape!  Outside in the real world she doesn't last long before she's stolen and taken about 1000 miles away to Mexico City to be used in illegal dog fights.  (Yeah, they'd really want a Chihuahua, and even if they did, certainly Mexico City 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 the dog 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 dogs, 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 be 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 sends him 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 even that.  Even if you ignore the things that adults would pick up on (the trite plot, the series of amazing coincidences, the abysmal geography, the fact that the dogs travel hundreds of miles on foot in a day, and the horrible dialog including "come with me if you want to 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 look for 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 at too, since it's rated PG.  You would have thought that they would have gone for a G rating if they were after a younger audience.
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!  "No Mas!"  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 forgets 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 piñata running around the store for example and that stupid rat) but this is an adventure film that lacks drama, mainly because it's so hard to care for any of the characters.
The Blu-ray Disc:

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 used, even 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 was very engrossing.
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 and how they signed the Declaration of Independence.   That's followed by Pet Pals:  The Voices Behind the Dogs (9 minutes) a worthless fluff piece where the voice 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 Their Bark:  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, but this 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.
Final Thoughts:
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 at the beginning of the film.  Add into that the fact that dog fighting plays a significant role in the film (how'd you like to explain that to a 6 year old?) and you've got a movie that just isn't very 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.  Skip it.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.
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