Movie Review for Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)

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Review #697 of 365
Movie Review of Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) [PG] (but should be rated no lower than PG-13! 91 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $3.50
Where Viewed: AMC Theatres Orchard 12, Westminster, CO
When Seen: 3 October 2008 @ 7:10 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: There is Nothing
Unsung Member of the Crew: Lead Roto Paint Artist – Ross Nakamura

Soundtrack: Download now from DJ Bobo - Chihuahua (Beverly Hills Chihuahua Version) - Single - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Raja Gosnell (Yours, Mine and Ours)
Written by: Analisa LaBianco (debut) • Jeffrey Bushell ("Zoey 101") with story by Jeffrey Bushnell

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jamie Lee Curtis (Christmas with the Kranks) • Piper Perabo (Because I Said So) • Manolo Cardona (La Mujer de Mi Hermano)
Voice Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Drew Barrymore (Music and Lyrics) • Andy Garcia (Ocean's Thirteen) • George Lopez (Swing Vote) • Edward James Olmos ("Battlestar Galactica")

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The very first thing I've got to get off my chest is that since I was a little kid, I've always hated talking animal movies. It's not just because of the lack of reality, but rather, it's because the technology used to make the animals look like they are talking is so terrible. When creatures communicate, they communicate as much through their mouth, lips, vocal cords, and tongue as they do with their eyes, eyebrows, facial expressions, other body language, etc., but the makers of talking animals never seem to take that into account. Makers of animated films could never get away with that, but for some reason the makers of talking animal films seem to get a pass. Given the gigantic improvements in available technology, it's fascinating that the Walt Disney Company would make a huge talking dog movie and have it turn out to be yet another example in a long line of examples of terrible talking animal movies. The first thing they should have done was make this an animated film. As a live action film with a mix of some CGI characters, at least, I think they were CGI characters because if not they were not they were the worst-looking real mouse, iguana, and mountain lions ever put on film, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is an utter and colossal debacle. Second, they should have totally re-written this horrendous story. There are so many things wrong with this movie it's hard to decide where to start.

Let's talk about the story and the idea for the story first. The story is about a sickeningly wealthy woman cosmetic industry head named Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis), who's so rich she indulges thousands upon thousands of dollars on her Chihuahua whom she definitely seems to love—nothing wrong with that—except that the indulgences are not all about making the life of her little Chloe more livable but about turning her into an accessory for her own outfits. She gets looks of longing, I mean people are literally drooling over the Louis Vutton bag that Chloe rides around in. Chloe is a dog, she's not a Barbie® Doll. Whatever. Viv's second plaything is her mansion which is decked out in every nicety including a landscaper named Sam (Manolo Cardona) who also has a little Chihuahua named Papi. When Viv has to go to Europe to promote her new line, she puts Chloe in the care of her niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo). This single, misguided, unemployed, young woman and her friends decide to take a trip to Baja California and bring Chloe with them. Of course, after feeding Chloe regular canned dog food, she waits until the girls are gone to escape and look for 'real' food. The snobby little dog doesn't last long on the streets of Tijuana before she's dog-napped and driven overnight to Mexico City where she suddenly finds herself in the midst of a dog-fight kennel. I could probably stop there, except I didn't intentionally emphasize one thing. The dogs talk. They have opinions and comments. Of course, humans cannot understand them. Chloe is voiced by Drew Barrymore and Pappi is voiced by George Lopez. So, all the while this is going on, there are incessant, mind-numbing, idiotic comments from Chloe who's been written to be one of the least intelligent, most xenophobic, and most annoying characters of all time.

Horrible acting, terrible special effects, mind-numbing dialogue, and stereotypically awful characters, make Beverly Hills Chihuahua one of the worst movies…of the year.
While I'd wish ill will on no one, there was a point I thought, "Either I've got to leave the theatre, or the big, mean Doberman has to eat her, because I cannot take it any more." [As an aside, no film I've seen in recent memory has made me want to leave the theatre more times than this annoying, pointless, misguided film.] So, to finish up on the plot, after realizing she's doomed, poor Chloe in her thousand dollar diamond necklace, leather booties, and cashmere sweater is sent to the pit to face the brutal Doberman Diablo (voiced violently by Edward James Olmos). Just when things would get rated-R quickly, the kindly former police dog, Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia) saves her and all the other dogs allowing for their escape. Now poor Chloe though is all alone unless she can convince Delgado to help her find her way home. At just about the same time, Rachel is realizing that Chloe is missing and starts to search for her. Eventually, Sam and Papi get the news and travel to Mexico to help, because, Papi cannot stand to think of his little corazon alone in the possible dangers that lurk in his home country, a country he loves so much he utters more than one famously irresponsible phrases like "We're not Mexican't, were Mexican". (see the spoiler for the ending)

In long-term memory, I can think of no worse concept for a movie to pitch at little kids. Are they supposed to like this film because of the talking dogs? And shame on the MPAA for rating this film PG. It's PG-13 at the least due to horrifying and scary scenes of big dogs literally terrorizing little dogs. This is nightmare-inducing stuff, folks. Supposedly, the members of the MPAA have little kids, well, think about it. There's no way I'd take a kid under 7 to see this film and maybe not under 9. It really bugs me when the grown ups involved in making a film don't think about these things, and then they pitch the movie at little kids. Honestly, I don't think bigger kids will enjoy the movie very much either though. Mostly because, it's not very good. The story is bizarre in more ways than one. I mean dog fighting, uppity Beverly Hills dogs living in lavish luxury while a huge percentage of USA children live below the poverty line, prissy Chihuahuas needing protection from other animals and other dogs? It's just quite simply bizarre. There are some comic moments, but nothing that offsets the mixed messages and offbeat signals sent from other parts of the film's story. Clearly, spoiled brat Rachel, for example, has ugly American syndrome when it comes to traveling abroad and interacting with people whose first language may not be English. Her broken choppy, idiotic attempts at Spanish are an embarrassment. The ending is predictable and trite right down to the landscaper carrying in the luggage from Aunt Viv's trip when she arrives home. How stereotypical and gauche. Besides, isn't she rich enough to afford a butler to handle all that? Shame on everyone else who agreed to be involved. Jamie Lee Curtis and Piper Perabo…what were you thinking, you've set back the role of women in films 75 years. Someone not even that resourceful could earn his Ph.D. in sociology with all that's wrong with this film. Horrible acting, terrible special effects, mind-numbing dialogue, and stereotypically awful characters, make Beverly Hills Chihuahua one of the worst movies pitched at children of the year and one of the worst films overall of the year. The only redeeming qualities it has were the honesty of Delgado and the young Manolo Cardona whose career may not have been totally ruined by this film because he seems very uncomfortable himself most of the movie.

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Other Projects Featuring Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
Cast Members
Jamie Lee CurtisPiper PeraboManolo Cardona
Drew BarrymoreAndy GarciaGeorge Lopez
Edward James Olmos
Raja Gosnell
Analisa LaBiancoJeffrey Bushell

Review-lite Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) [max of 150 words]

Horrible acting, terrible special effects, mind-numbing dialogue, and stereotypically awful characters, make Beverly Hills Chihuahua one of the worst movies of the year.

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Anonymous said...

dear mr. whoever this is a great animal movie and if u knew that u didnt like animal movies then y did u go see it ? anyways dont hate apprieciate and besides u are not a real movie reviewer . stop hatin on good movies .

Scooter Thompson said...

Dear Anonymous,
I try to see every movie. And, I had hoped that this one would be great. Generally, I love Disney® movies, so I thought this one would be different. Unfortunately, I was wrong, it's not different, it's worse. I would really like for you to take the time to explain why you thought it was great, though since you say I am not a "real movie reviewer"--commonly called a critic--and apparently you are? So, by all means please tell me what you thought was so great about this film. I spent a lot of time explaining my position, so here's your opportunity. My only request would be that you not resort to the tactic of insulting me for my opinion as proof of the "greatness" of this particular film. Ok? Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

Here's a review of your "review".

I don't normally care for the opinions of critics and usually pay no attention to them. However,
I must say that there has yet to be a review as undeserving of the space it takes up as this one. The reviewer went in with mind made up - what were you thinking, why on earth would you spend time watching a movie with talking animals when you know there is a dark, psychological, warpness stemming from your childhood memories of talking animals?
It was an accident that I saw this bunch of words and I am guilty of completing the "review" resulting in a waste of my time.
To the one or two readers of this "critic" - I hope you soon learn to move on and use your own mind and opnion.
You don't really have the right to ask anyone to not be insulting to you after you just insulted the writers, directors, actors, special effects, dogs, the hard-working crews in Mexico and America, and the iconic Disney.
I don't know if this is a real job for you but your "job" is to be informative not rude.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you like to criticize rudely but you don't like to BE criticized. Where is the comment that reviewed your review?

Scooter Thompson said...

Dear Anonymous #2,
Thank you for taking the time to (a) read and (b) comment. It is fulfilling to evoke reactions, even negative ones. It's also good to know that people feel empowered to be critical of critics. I think it's only fair. It is too bad that far too often people don't take more time to engage in lively debate, so I appreciate you taking the time.

From time to time, when I review a film, I try to let people in on a little of my own history so as to help but my review in context. This is a rarity among critics, I've found during my history as a film critic. For example, there are some critics, some very famous ones, who believe certain directors can do no wrong and lavish praise on bad films due to their love of a director, which they don't mention in the review. So, by stating that I tend not to like talking animal films helps you understand my review from the outset in that context. It also provides a wonderful segue if it turns out that the film surprises and overcomes that precondition. [Which, sadly, even given the giant advancements in technology, this film did far worse than any I can remember in fact. Charlotte's Web wasn't this bad, Babe wasn't this bad.] In any case, I will firmly stand by the notion that good and great films emerge from great stories, and this one is not even mediocre let alone good or great. It's an entirely misguided, poorly conceived film from top to bottom.

As an independent film critic, I am not beholden to any media conglomerate. I receive no studio swag and pay to go to the movies just as you do. Therefore, I feel I can put my opinions out there unbiasedly for you to appreciate or reject at your leisure.

My criticism of your criticism and others in this threat is only that you take to criticizing me personally or suggesting I am not a real critic or whatever rather than addressing what you felt were the strong points for the film. You use a strategy of argument that is diversionary rather than focused. I'd love to hear what you thought was so good about this film. I'd love to hear your arguments against mine that the film, for example, makes Americans, especially women, look stupid, shallow, and culturally illiterate? I'd love to read your defense of dog fights in a movie pitched at children, or even the generally scary doberman scenes in a kid's film? I'd be pleased to have my arguments regarding the horrendous gluttonous, silly, and wasteful lifestyle depicted in a world filled with so much poverty properly refuted.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you can do this before jumping to the conclusion that you cannot which might be why you chose to attack me rather than my words.

Finally, you say I'm rude. I'd like to have some examples of the rudeness you find in my review. I would certain like to apologize in advance for any appearance of rudeness. Few critics have written so extensively as I when it comes to wanting to appreciate the 1000s of artists involved in making any film. It's why my rating scale stops ag $3 instead of $0 or no stars as some critics have awarded various films. I think it is rude to insult me rather than defend your own position on the film. Maybe it's rude of me to say so.

Anonymous said...

Ok here it is from an obviously non biased point of view, and I hate to take it to this level. Recently there was a VP debate, and the expectations were set so low that Sarah Palin actually looked like she had some idea of what it would be to take on the roll of VP of the United States of America. If you set your expectations low you can like just about anything. So that in mind I had no problem with the talking dogs, but they were creapy. Secondly, I did take my 5 year old daughter to this film and who in their right mind would make a "Children’s" film that centers around dog fighting!!! Is this an example of how our society thinks that it is ok to be Michael Vick? If you like this film or not, it may be time to look at the bigger picture and realize that just because you take cute dogs and make them talk does not mean that you don't have to have a descent message for those kids that you want to pay the $9 to see it. Remember, one of the best animated films of all time Cars, had no villain at all! Kids still have nightmares and thanks to the scary Doberman pincher my kid, that had no aversion to dogs previously, is now afraid of the "big" ones. Thanks!