I'd Rather Have Taco Bell

Movie title: Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG
Director: Raja Gosnell
Producers: (Exec.) Steve Nicolaides, John Jacobs, Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis (Aunt Viv) Voice cast: Andy Garcia “Delgado,” Drew Barrymore “Chloe,” George Lopez “Papi,” Placido Domingo “Monte,” Edward James Olmos “El Diablo,” Paul Rodriguez “Chico,” Cheech Marin “Manuel,” Eduardo ‘piolin’ Sotelo “Rafa,” Luiz Guzman “Chucho,” Loretta Devine “Delta,” Michael Urie “Sebastian”
Genre: Comedy-Adventure-Family
Summation: A pampered, upscale Chihuahua (Chloe, voiced by Drew Barrymore) from Beverly Hills goes on a surprise adventure in Mexico where she is lost, but pursued by another Chihuahua (Papi, voiced by George Lopez) out of his love for her.
Spoilers ahead: No


I bet you’re wondering what Beverly Hills Chihuahua has for you. I bet you’ve got your list of questions lined up about the movie, like are there hot and studly Mexican gardeners? Well, there’s one. It seems that no movie portraying hired help can avoid that overplayed tendency to have a great-looking “Don Juan” yard-keeper around to spark up some romance. And what about dogs that appear to talk like humans? Count on it! Does it cater to a young audience and hardcore, manic, super-devoted dog-lovers? Yeppers! Does it throw around the word “Chihuahua” enough times to make the viewer dizzy, reminding the audience that a Chihuahua is indeed a dog of Mexican origin? You bet! It’s got that too.

It’s got a lot, including a cute, nicely wrapped-up plot that makes you feel all warm and toasty inside. It's nearly a decent Disney movie. But you’ll also get a constant barrage of Mexican accents, making the film almost like a parody of Mexican stereotypes, either that or a take off of the old Taco Bell dog commercials. You remember those, don’t you…all that fuss that was made when objectors in the early 2000s told the franchise that having a Chihuahua with a Mexican accent was “demeaning” to Latinos? Well, Disney doesn’t seem to think so, or perhaps the movie’s creators just didn’t give the matter much thought.

Another thing the creators didn’t seem to think about was the movie’s lack of seriousness. One keeps waiting for the dogs to assemble in a line formation and start singing and dancing (with the help of animation) around a sombrero while mariachis come from out of nowhere and start playing. Walking right into a stereotype is not necessarily a bad thing. Some are true and can be addressed. The only problem is, when all one has is stereotypes, you have a superficial movie. And that is right near the case. But I’m just curious: Is there anyone out there who believes that 80 Chihuahuas could intimidate three hungry mountain lions? Anyone?

Well, how about great acting? Uh, not particularly, but the acting fit the story. Plot twists? None to speak of. Heck, we don’t even get any real footnote information about the Chihuahua breed. The film could have slipped in some educational facts along the way in this very grade school-level movie. The “cheese” meter registered quite high, with horribly lame and mellow-dramatic happenings ever so often, the kind of thing you generally find and abhor in movies for young audiences where “kooky” stuff happens.

Even the animal interaction was not up to par. The animal trainers and directors could have been creative in whipping up a more convincing dog face-off scene towards the movie’s end simply by taking clips of similar-looking dogs in play and adding sound affects, but they didn’t even do that. The word “half-baked” comes to mind (well, actually, I was thinking of a stronger word).

Nothing remarkable here at all. Complete waste of time? Well, perhaps not. If you want a clean movie for younger audiences, you’ll certainly find that here. If you want a heartwarming animal adventure, you’ll find that too. The actors and actresses for the animal voices were well chosen and the story is nicely moving, tugging on your emotions at times. Me, I'd rather have Taco Bell.