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Monday, October 06, 2008

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

I hate to even talk about dogs. If you say you don’t adore them in this country you might as well admit to being an anti-American cannibalistic pedophile. People will despise you, distrust you, and consider you either demented or criminal for not wanting one of “man’s best friends” as your companion. I’m sorry, but it’s true, and you dog owners know that’s the way you treat the rest of us ~ with total contempt and disdain. I don’t hate dogs. I just don’t want one because I’ve already had three in my life and they’ve all died on me, and that’s enough canine traumas for one lifetime. That’s the trouble with dogs: they worm their way into your hearts with their puppy dog eyes (hey! Now I know where that phrase came from), their drooling little smiles, and those wagging “I wuv you” tails. Then they stink up your house, make you take them for walks in blizzards and heat-waves, picking up their butt nuggets along the way, and you spend a decade or so vacuuming up their hair everywhere. They take over your life, your bed, your car, and you don’t mind because they really do become more than your best friend; they become a part of your family. And then they die. Who the hell thought up this system? God? If so, He really should have balanced things better so that dogs and people had the same life spans because it totally sucks walnuts that people can find themselves rooked into loving something so cute and cuddly and then get bent over the rail, if you get my meaning. It’s so unnecessary. We already have grandparents so, while they are young, children can learn about musty smelling things that die.

Now I’m sure you know why I hate ‘dog movies.’ Usually the dog dies in the end, and I don’t like
seeing that. I’m already having anxiety attacks about the upcoming Marley & Me, scheduled for a Christmas release later this year. I just know that is going to be a tear-jerker because studios always release their films with death and tragedy in them at Christmas time because Academy Award voting happens in early January. Nothing says “Happy Holidays!” quite like a film with dead kids or dogs in them to give your family movie-going experience a cheery, warm feeling.

Fortunately, with Disney, I felt safe that
Beverly Hills Chihuahua wouldn’t dare kill off a dog in a PG-rated kids’ movie, would they? It begins with a pampered pooch named Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore; Lucky You) being styled at a doggie boutique and modeling at least a dozen haute couture ensembles, including hats, booties, and trés expensive diamond jewelry. Chloe’s human “mommy” is Vivian (Jamie Lee Curtis;
A Home for the Holidays), a wildly successful and equally busy fashion executive who worships her “baby” and has her scheduled for everything from shiatsu massages to mani and pedis on a regular basis in addition to regular grooming and shopping sprees for new wardrobe pieces and accessories. Dare I say Chloe is a tad spoiled? As a matter of fact, she is so upper class, she only hob-knobs with other dogs from her “class,” dropped off by a chauffeur for a play date now and then.

While they lounge by the pool, Chloe and pals Delta (Loretta Devine; tv’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Eli Stone”), Sebastian (Michael Urie; tv’s “Ugly Betty”), Chucho (Luis Gusmán; War), and Rafa (Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo; 10 Items or Less) completely ignore the antics of swooning Papi (George Lopez; Swing Vote), who is doing everything he can to catch the eye of his beloved Chloe. Sadly, to them, he just déclassé. How rude is that? They all deserve a bad case of worms for such an uppity attitude, if you ask me, whom you didn’t, but I’m just saying.

When Viv is called to Europe and her usual dog-sitter is sick, she reluctantly recruits her 20-year-old niece Rachel (Piper Perabo; Because I Said So), into service. The trouble is Rachel is an equally spoiled and vacuous human version of Chloe who I wouldn’t trust to care for a cactus let alone a high-maintenance Chihuahua. Naturally, everything is bound to go wrong, and so it does.

Take one empty-headed heiress, add two even more pathetically inane playmates (Ali Hillis; Over Her Dead Body, and Marguerite Moreau; The Uninvited) who suddenly decide they all must go to Mexico, and you know this trip will not end well. Add alcohol (in a Disney movie ~ aye carumba!), and before you know it Chloe is lost in Mexico and dog-napped by evil people. Then the real story begins.

What follows is a high speed adventure that has Chloe on the run from the bad guys while meeting new friends and protectors along her very long and complicated way back to Beverly Hills. As she does, it gives her the opportunity to learn a lot about “real life” and what it is like for dogs and humans outside of her pampered bubble. The same happens for Rachel as well, who, despite her friends’ laizzez-faire attitudes, steps up and assumes her responsibility for taking care of Chloe and thus starts scouring Mexico from city-to-city trying to track down her wee pal.

The eye-pleasing Manolo Cardona (Mujer de mi hermano, la) as Sam Cortez, Papi’s owner, and the landscaper at Viv’s estate, gets wind of the situation down south and drops everything to start his own search with Papi but almost immediately crosses paths with Rachel, which creates a storyline for the older crowd, and by that I mean those over twelve. Clearly there is some PG sexual tension between the two even though Rachel treated him like he was Chloe poo on the bottom of her shoe when she first met him back in Beverly Hills since she considered him a common servant. Be-yotch! I thought he should have hit her with a shovel at that point and buried her in the shallow trench he had already dug for a hedge he was about to plant, but I suppose that would have made for a whole different movie and not one Disney would have financed, but still. I hate that “My s**t doesn’t stink attitude.”

Don’t worry, though. This is an absolutely 100% Disney adventure. With the exception of a scary-ass Doberman that will traumatize any child who sees the film so that they will feel like my generation does thanks to Cujo every time we see a Saint Bernard, this movie is free of scares. Oh, well, there are the terrifying and very hungry mountain lions, but other than that everything is squeaky clean as long as you don’t count the gangsters with guns and the organized dog fights of course.

When the movie was over I was very disappointed to hear one old lady leaving the theater complaining that she thought the movie was “stupid.” I totally disagree. What was she expecting when the poster shows a couple of dozen Chihuahuas lined up in some Aztec-looking configuration? This is probably some old heifer who watches “Deal or No Deal” at night because she thinks “Howie Mandell is hot stuff” and she giggles while her terrier licks the cold cream off of her feet. For all I know, she covers them in Spam™ just for the thrill of having a tongue on her toes. Her nasty bunions aside, I think Beverly Hills Chihuahua is adorable. Okay, it’s not a classic, but it is fun, fast, and fashion forward. It is also probably the first time since Cinderella Disney has addressed class issues seriously in one of their movies, and, doggone it, that can’t be bad, now can it? You won’t be barking up the wrong tree with a trip to the Essex Cinemas to see this one.

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