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Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Posted Thursday, October 16, 2008, at 9:16 AM

Piper Perabo (left) and Jamie Lee Curtis with their pampered pooch.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua:

Comedy. Directed by Raja Gosnell. With Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Zano, and the voices of Drew Barrymore, Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, George Lopez, Salma Hayek, Plácido Domingo, Cheech Marin and Luis Guzman. (Rated PG. 91 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

Depending on your tolerance for talking Chihuahuas, this live-action comic offering from Disney could make for a fun family night out. A pampered Southern California pooch is kidnapped and winds up being pursued by villains - humans and canine - in Mexico. It's "101 Dalmatians" with a Latino twist and a bit of "Legally Blonde" thrown in.

Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore) is a Chihuahua who lives in a Beverly Hills mansion, wears a diamond collar and designer booties. She is a thorough snob, meaning she'll get her comeuppance, which begins when she is abducted by some nefarious humans during a trip south of the border. She winds up in the company of some down-and-out dogs, who are astonished by her prissy behavior and ridiculous attitudes.

The main human actors are the redoubtable Piper Perabo as the niece of the wealthy cosmetics entrepreneur (Jamie Lee Curtis) who owns Chloe, and Nick Zano as the handsome young landscaper who spars with the Perabo character. Voice work is offered by a who's who of Latino performers - Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Plácido Domingo, Cheech Marin and others.

The movie uses real dogs, with special effects employed to enhance their "speaking" abilities. (There are also a couple of animals that are totally computer-generated.) The level of humor is along these lines: Chloe: "I'm an heiress." Other dog: "A hairless?" The film does have some fun with Latino stereotypes, especially in the characters voiced by Lopez and Marin, but the ribbing struck me as good-natured. On the other hand, the film also mocks the Perabo character's attempts at gringo Spanish and her initial condescension toward the Zano figure.

The director is Raja Gosnell (maker of the two "Scooby-Doo" pictures), who has a capable eye for the broad comedy and slapstick common to this kind of Disney effort.

One small warning: Chloe at one point falls into the hands of a dog-fighting ring, in sequences that could be a bit scary for the youngest of viewers.

Combining the themes of dignity and empowerment - "We are tiny, but we are mighty," says the leader of a vast Chihuahua pack - with a story of a spoiled rich canine who learns not to be so high and mighty, the film hits all the typical Disney notes. There's even a politically correct message at the end advising would-be dog adopters to make sure they know what they're getting into.

-- Advisory: Some mild thematic elements.

Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle

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GRREAT movie.....period. Great kids movie!

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Sun, Oct 19, 2008, at 10:21 PM

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