Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beverly Hills Chihuahua **

Director: Raja Gosnell
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Piper Perabo, Manolo Cardona,
José María Yazpik, Jesús Ochoa, George Lopez, Andy García, Plácido Domingo, Edward James Olmos, Drew Barrymore

If Paris Hilton was a bitch she would've been instantly cast in the role of Chloe (voiced by Barrymore) a pampered, spoiled Hollywood chihuahua whose owner Viv (Curtis) takes her shopping, to social gatherings and adorns her with Harry Winston diamonds.
When Viv has to go on a business trip, she leaves Chloe under the care of her niece Rachel (Perabo) who thinks the dog is merely a spoiled hairy creature, unaware that Chloe holds her in the same regard.
Rachel's friends organize a sudden trip to Mexico where Chloe suffers the lack of stars in her hotel as well as complete negligence of her usual care.
She decides to teach Rachel a lesson and go back home on her own, but instead ends up held captive by vicious dognapper Vásquez (Yazpik). She runs away with the help of noble German shepherd Delgado (García) who reluctantly agrees to help get her back to California before they're caught by Vásquez and his evil Doberman Diablo (voiced by Olmos). This gives path to their adventure which includes pumas, stolen jewels, life changing realizations and more Mexican clichés than you can stuff in a chimichanga.
The truth of the matter is that probably nobody watching this film is expecting Neorrealism or a Kafkian experience, the real surprise is that the film is much more charming and effective than it should've been.
While one might assume that anything featuring cute talking animals is enough to grab a child's attention, the animators, puppeteers and every other crew member that worked on the characterizations have done an impeccable job and manage to give the dogs and other animals souls of their own.
The film does an effective job as a sort of "Lady and the Tramp" update, as Chloe is being searched by Papi (voiced by Lopez) and his owner Sam (Cardona) who works as Viv's gardener and has a thing for Rachel.
Sadly the human characters are never as compelling as their canine counterparts and when the film tries to include them in the plot, Chloe's story loses some momentum that drags more than it helps, as well as when they walk the extra mile to be preachy about animal adoption and care.
Perhaps they should've tried to comment on why would someone put diamonds on a dog as it might send a wrong idea for small children (who probably know nothing about what recession is but will find out the hard way when they insist Spike would look fabulous with a tiara) and maybe rely less on hispanic stereotypes to convey dramatic arts (although for a Disney film to show a Mexico City with four star hotels and skyscrapers is a sort of groundbreaking move).
They should've trusted the story itself which will have everyone leaving the cinema with a smile on their faces and a desire to be extra nicer to their pets back home.

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