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Beverly Hills Chihuahua a real dog of a movie

Chris KaltenbachThe Baltimore SunAspen, CO Colorado
Walt Disney PicturesPiper Perabo in Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
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Its hard to go wrong with a movie full of talking dogs. But the makers of Beverly Hills Chihuahua sure try.Lets get this out of the way first thing: yeah, talking dogs are cute, and if cute is all you want from a movie, this one may constitute an overdose. But if you want anything else cleverness, inventiveness, originality, genuine imagination then Im afraid youll need to look elsewhere. Its as if the filmmakers decided the very idea of talking dogs was enough to sustain audiences for 91 minutes, so they didnt bother with anything else.The main yakking canine is Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), a pampered Beverly Hills pet who waddles around in little doggie booties and wears a necklace from Harry Winston. Youd think that the current economic turmoil would have taken all the funny out of conspicuous consumption. But maybe one shouldnt blame the filmmakers for being trumped by current events especially when theres so much else to blame them for.The laugh-fest begins when Chloes high-class, high-maintenance owner (Jamie Lee Curtis in what must be her worst role) decides to go on a vacation where Chloe is not welcome. This causes Chloes ever-conscientious owner to leave the poor pup in the care of her feckless niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo), whose idea of being responsible is making sure her champagne glass remains full.When Rachel and her airhead friends decide that a trip of their own is in order, they high-tail it off to Mexico, Chloe in tow.Then Chloe gets picked up by a dognapper, who wants to use her in a dogfight. (A Chihuahua? In a dogfight?)Then Chloe escapes, thanks to the friendship shes struck up with a German shepherd named Delgado (Andy Garcia).Then she works on getting herself back to Beverly Hills not realizing that Rachel, thanks to a sudden and inexplicable attack of conscience, is looking for her.In addition to Chloe and Delgado, plenty of other erudite dogs pop up, including a Chihuahua named Papi (George Lopez) who has the hots for Chloe, and a vicious Doberman named Diablo (Edward James Olmos). Theres even a talking iguana and a talking rat, suggesting theres a lot more erudition going on in the animal world than most of us realize.By this time, the cuteness factor is stifling, and the humor … well, theres the dog that tells someone to talk to the paw a line that might have been funny 10 years ago, but is now just tired. The rest of the film suffers from more of the same. Young kids may find Beverly Hills Chihuahua engaging, and parents may find it harmless (though vacuous).Director Raja Gosnell (Scooby-Doo), displaying no visual flair or sense of comic timing, does no one any favors. Audiences will keep wondering when the film will display any genuine wit, and its clear that the human actors (especially Perabo, whose once-promising career seems stuck in mindless-family-fare limbo) cant wait to move on to the next project.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Rated PG for some suggestive humor. Running time: 91 minutes.

Ann HornadayThe Washington PostThe economy is in freefall. Congress is a circus of dysfunction and demagoguery. The White House is under investigation for violating the Constitution. Things are heating up in Pakistan.What we need now is a talking Chihuahua movie!In a saner world, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Disneys flat-footed attempt to cash in on the Taco Bell talking-dog craze that peaked 10 years ago, would be easily dismissed as the pop-cultural detritus that it is. But things are just this crazy its actually not that bad. Drew Barrymore voices the part of Chloe, the pampered title character who, while in the care of a feckless babysitter (Piper Perabo), is taken to Mexico and promptly gets lost. Like so many classics of which this isnt one, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is all about getting home and, in Chloes case, getting in touch with her proud Mexican roots in the process.OK, the concept for the movie is admittedly lame, but theres absolutely nothing wrong with watching a passel of adorable pooches wrinkle their brows and bark while human voices come out of their mouths.


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