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Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/3/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/1/2009

I have to assume that movie trailers, previews, coming attractions, whatever you want to call them have always been popular. I've always felt that one of the best part of going to the movies was to see the commercial for the next movie that you'd be going to see (in order to see more commercials). Trailers have gotten so popular today that some people will pay just to see a certain trailer and then leave the theater! At some point in history (most likely in the mid 1970s with the advent of Saturday Night Live), fake movie trailers became popular. (The first one that I remember seeing was Hardware Wars.) Most film-fans of today are aware of fake trailers and know how to spot them. But, few were ready for the trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Is this a really movie? Surely this must be a joke, or a lead-in to another movie. After Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Ninja (among many others), they couldn't be making another "Beverly Hills" movie, could they? And did that Chihuahua just claim to be an ancient warrior? Oh yes, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is real, and now a new question arises -- Can it live up to that trailer?

Beverly Hills Chihuahua introduces us to Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), a spoiled Chihuahua who is spoiled by her owner, Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis). Chloe spends her days getting pedicures, trying on clothes (Yes, the dogs in this film wear clothes.), and lounging by the pool with her friends, Delta (voiced by Lorette Devine) and Sebastian (voiced by Michael Urie). Papi (voiced by George Lopez), the Chihuahua who works with landscaper Sam (Manolo Cardona), is always "hounding" Chloe and calling her "mi corazone", but Chloe spurns his advances. When Viv has to go to Europe on business, and her usual dog-sitter cancels, she asks her niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo), to watch Chloe. However, Rachel is a party-girl and she and her friends, Angel (Ali Hillis) and Blair (Marguerite Morea), take off to Mexico, taking Chloe with them. Once there, Chloe is unhappy with the accommodations, so she goes out to explore. She is captured by a dog-fighting ring. Terrified, the pampered pup has no idea what to do, but she’s helped by a German Shepherd named Delgado (Andy Garcia). Meanwhile, Rachel realizes that Chloe is missing and begins to search for her, hoping to find her before Viv returns.

The movie takes the standard "fish out of water" story and makes it a "rich dog out of Beverly Hills" story, and it's none too similar to many movies which featured humans in similar situations (and if you think about it, a lot of these movies have featured Goldie Hawn). The movie doesn't stray too far from this formula, despite the fact that it features dogs -- Chloe doesn't understand that she's in a different world, her clothes get ruined, she must learn to trust the locals, and she eventually learns a lesson that being rich doesn't make you better. The writer's clearly took some classic movies and simply changed "rich girl" to "rich dog" and ran with it.

The result is the pinnacle of mediocrity. The story does little to add anything original to the traditional tale. The only thing that I couldn't have predicted was that Chloe is kidnapped to be in dogfighting. (Given the recent focus on dogfights due to the Michael Vick trial, I'm surprised that this was included.) Instead, the movie relies on the cuteness of the animals involved to entice the audience. The animals are undeniably cute, although the dog playing Chloe doesn't seem to be crazy about the fact that she's wearing shoes. The movie relies on digitized animation to make it look as if the dog's mouths are moving while they, but we can clearly see some "barks" during the dialogue.

The thing to keep in mind about Beverly Hills Chihuahua is that it's aimed at children. (I'm not sure why this is PG when much scarier Disney films have been G.) While adults will no doubt be stupified at the story and the movie's thinly veiled attempts at manipulating the audience, kids will eat this stuff up. My daughters loved the dogs and my youngest was genuinely concerned for Chloe's life when the evil dog Diablo (voiced by Edwards James Olmos) pursued her. (I kept trying to explain to her that it was a Disney movie and that Chloe would be fine.) While I found the movie to be derivative and it pales in comparison to other talking animal films, such as Babe, I did laugh a few times at Beverly Hills Chihuahua. However, I, like so many others, will wonder when we will get to see the movie advertised.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua heads south of the border on DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only slight grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, most notably the pastels. The image is relatively free from artifacting, but I did note some haloes around the extras. The DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track provides nice stereo effects which show good stereo separation. The surround effects are notably good during crowd scenes, such as a night-club and the dogfight. Some scenes which involves deep growls and barks have some mild subwoofer effects.

The Beverly Hills Chihuahua DVD contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Raja Gosnell. This is a relatively good talk, as Gosnell speaks at length throughout the film, discussing locations, the story, improvisation, and working with the doggy actors. "Legend of the Chihuahua" (3 minutes) is an animated short which attempts to give a history of the chihuahua, given several theories about from where they came. The DVD contains three DELETED SCENES which run 10 minutes and feature introductions from Director Raja Gosnell. (Oddly, he opens by talking as if we've been watching other deleted scenes.) We see two more scenes of Chloe exploring her ancestral roots and an extended ending. "Blooper Scooper" is a 3-minute gag reel.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has also brought Beverly Hills Chihuahua to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the Disc sports an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. We get very nice colors here, most notably during the Beverly Hills sequences. Once the action moves south, things are dark at times, but the image is never overly dark. The picture shows nice depth and an excellent level of detail. The Disc offers a Linear PCM 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant rate of 6.9 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a family film, there is surprisingly good sound here. The stereo effects are excellent, and we get a real sense of things happening from side-to-side. The surround sound is notably good as well, and there are several scenes where we are surrounded by the action. I was mostly surprised by the subwoofer effects, which are typically toned down for family films. Not so here, as several moments produced a satisfying "thump".

The Blu-ray Disc contains the same extras as the DVD, plus several new ones. There are an additional seven DELETED SCENES, which offer 14 more minutes of footage. (This explaisn why Gosnell sounded crazy on the DVD.) "Pet Pals: The Voices Behind the Dogs" (9 minutes) offers comments from Barrymore, Garcia, Lopez, Cheech Marin, Edward James Olmos, Paul Rodriguez, Luis Guzman, and Placido Domingo, and we get to see them in the recording studio. The piece also looks at a campaign to find homes for dogs. "Hitting Their Bark: On Set with the Dogs of BHC" (13 minutes) examines the amount of work which went into training and working with the dogs in the film. We get a ton of on-set footage in which we see the dogs acting...and doing their own thing. There is also a look at Chloe's wardrobe.

That famous trailer for the film is available as an Easter Egg on both the DVD and the Blu-ray Disc.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long