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|Beverly Hills Chihuahua
dir Raja Gosnell
scr Analisa LaBianco, Jeff Bushell
with Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis, Manolo Cardona, Jesús Ochoa
voices Drew Barrymore, Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez, Loretta Devine, Michael Urie
release US 3.Oct.08, UK 16.Jan.09
08/US Disney 1h38
South of the border: Perabo, Cardona and friends
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
This film is so deliberately cheesy that it nearly takes the breath away. Silly beyond reason, it somehow manages to win us over despite our doubts, and by the end we're ashamed that we can't stop giggling.
When Rachel (Perabo) comes to Beverly Hills to housesit for her wealthy Aunt Viv (Curtis), she's surprised that she also has care for Viv's beloved, over-pampered Chihuahua Chloe (voiced by Barrymore). But on a trip to Mexico, Chloe is kidnapped by dog-fighters. She escapes with the help of ex-policedog Delgado (Garcia), who accompanies her on a journey to el norte. It's up to Rachel, Viv's gardener Sam (Cardona) and his dog Papi (Lopez) to find Chloe before the bad guy's evil henchdog Diablo (Olmos) does.
From the start, director Gosnell uses plenty of colourful wackiness and goofy slapstick to try to distract us from the corny screenplay and its simplistic jokes, derivative references and lame plot. And Gosnell never lets up. As it progresses, this sheer force of energy begins to wear us down, as do the ludicrously adorable dogs. And people for that matter (Perabo and Cardona are so cute that we never doubt for a second where they're heading).
How the filmmakers actually get us to chuckle at the resolutely unfunny doggie monologs is fairly miraculous. Chloe prattles on incessantly, inanely observing everything around her. Meanwhile, other characters, such as the rat-iguana con artist team Chico and Manuel (Rodriguez and Marin--was Tommy Chong busy?), yabber on about nothing at all. Then there's a moment of deranged genius, such as a visit to a lost Chihuahua civilisation ("We're tiny but mighty!").
Technically, the film is also fairly iffy, with dodgy effects and cheap-but-cheerful set design to create a theme-park version of Mexico. Even though the plot is potentially grisly, all hints of violence have been completely purged from the screen, as have normal dog behaviours like marking territory or sniffing out new friends. The plot is riddled with gaping holes and yet, by never letting the pace slacken and relentlessly wearing down our cynicism, all we can do is laugh at it.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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