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Beverly Hills Chihuahua DVD Review

Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie poster Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Theatrical Release: October 3, 2008 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: PG / Songs: see list

Director: Raja Gosnell / Writers: Analisa LaBianco (screenplay), Jeff Bushell (story & screenplay)

Cast: Piper Perabo (Rachel Ashe), Manolo Cardona (Sam Cortez), Jamie Lee Curtis (Aunt Vivian Ashe), Josι Marνa Yazpik (Vasquez), Jesus Ochoa (Officer Ramirez), Maury Sterling (Rafferty), Eugenio Derbez (Store Owner), Omar Leyva (Ranger), Naomy Romo (Ranger), Ali Hillis (Angela), Marguerite Moreau (Blair), Nick Zano (Bryan) / Voice Cast: Drew Barrymore (Chloe), Andy Garcia (Delgado), George Lopez (Papi), Cheech Marin (Manuel), Paul Rodriguez (Chico), Plαcido Domingo (Montezuma), Edward James Olmos (El Diablo), Luis Guzman (Chucho), Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo (Rafa), Loretta Devine (Delta), Michael Urie (Sebastian), Leslie Mann (Bimini - uncredited)

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There's a long tradition of dogs at Disney. Nonverbal Pluto was first, then came the highly anthropomorphic Goofy. Later in life, Walt gave us the chatty cartoon canines of Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians. Live-action, however, remained a domain where dogs were prominent and spirited but not exaggerated;
cute though they may have been, communicative they weren't. The one exception was a Bratislavian sheepdog who a teenaged boy inhabited in 1959's The Shaggy Dog.

Those carrying on the studio stayed true to this approach; the animated dogs of The Fox and the Hound and Oliver & Company spoke amongst themselves and other animals. The 1993 adventure Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey mixed things up, letting its real furry stars talk in voiceover, as did its San Francisco-set sequel. This decade has taken things further. Snow Dogs kept things realistic outside of a brief dream sequence in which CGI allowed its Siberian Huskies to speak. Promoted with that scene, it became a sleeper hit. Then the Air Bud series about an athletically gifted Retriever shifted gears to be about his puppies, verbally gifted thanks to CG. Underdog took a yesteryear Saturday morning TV star and rendered him real.

Last fall, Disney brought live dogs equipped with CG speech to the big screen. Advance previews of Beverly Hills Chihuahua induced cringes and groans in some audience members, but the PG-rated comedy nonetheless found a sizable audience. That audience made it the highest-grossing talking dog movie on record and one of Disney's only 2008 releases to truly surpass expectations.

Sunbathing in shades and pink, Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) must endure romantic advances from assistant landscaper and fellow Chihuahua Papi. Chloe makes a friend and protector in Delgado, a German Shepherd with Andy Garcia's voice and a secret past.

The title dog of Chihuahua is Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), a pampered white Chihuahua who's used to traveling around town clothed, accessorized, and in stylish designer bags. Chloe's owner Vivian (Jamie Lee Curtis, also sporting white hair), a successful cosmetics entrepreneur, has to go away on a business trip and the only logical solution is to leave the tiny dog with Rachel (Piper Perabo), Viv's irresponsible adult daughter. Shortly into the guardianship, Rachel and two of her friends (who, like her, appear to have more sundresses than brain cells) decide to take a spontaneous little vacation to Mexico.

Due partly to inattention, Chloe sneaks off into the night and is swiftly dognapped and brought into an illicit Mexico City dogfighting ring. Narrowly escaping, the Chihuahua is soon declared missing. Those hoping to find her include Chloe, the family's Latino landscaper Sam (Manolo Cardona), his spunky, smitten brown Chihuahua Papi (voiced by George Lopez), enlisted local law enforcement, and the ransom-seeking dogfighters (who, like all family film criminals, are largely outwitted). Chloe has an ally in Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia), a weary German Shepherd with a mysterious past. Together, they try to reunite her with her Californian owners. Also encountered along the way are a con man pack rat named Manuel (Cheech Marin) and his more rational lizard partner Chico (Paul Rodriguez).

Chihuahua is slick product, something director Raja Gosnell should be familiar with, having previously helmed Big Momma's House and the two live-action Scooby-Doo flicks. Like those, this film proved none too popular with critics but turned a handy profit in theaters. Truth be told, the movie is effective at holding anyone's attention and though its advertisements suggested otherwise, the entertainment it offers is pretty painless. But it's also lazy family filmmaking, the kind in which anyone who hasn't shut their brain off can foresee exactly how the climax will play out about halfway in. This is not a promising debut feature for writers Jeffrey Bushell and Analisa LaBianco.

Leading the charge to find Chloe are smitten Chihuahua Papi (voiced by George Lopez), Rachel (Piper Perabo), and Sam (Manolo Cordana). Having already voiced a Disney Chihuahua, Cheech Marin now gets to speak for con man rat Manuel; Paul Rodriguez lends his vocals to iguana partner Chico.

You've got a dog romance casually paralleled in their human owners. You've got no shortage of cheesy, trite one-liners worked into dialogue (one of the first of which is "Talk to the paw"). There are pop songs top to bottom (full list at bottom of page), many of which make the film feel 10-20 years older than it is, like Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot", George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone", and Tag Team's "Whoomp! (There It Is)".
The musical callbacks are not unwelcome, for this is a contemporary production that while making little reference to present-day culture should still feel dated quite soon.

Also to the movie's advantage is that it doesn't pretend to be any more noble than it is. Or at least when it does, like throwing in a bit of Mexican lore or lobbing the notion of culturally insensitive Americans, it can't seriously be mistaken for imparting lessons or values. It's a live-action talking dog movie and not one which purports to have anything special in the insight and story departments.

And yet if you look really deep, you may spot an interesting idea. Get past the purely expository first half-hour, noticing that most jokes probably took shape in post-production, the "Jackie O" punchline for parents (or is it grandparents?) and the "tinkle" reference for kids, and you may discover touches of an adult action drama, in which a weathered former cop reluctantly protects a jeopardized citizen. I'm not joking. But chances are that most viewers are neither looking for nor appreciating such a flourish from something whose cover boasts, "The Greatest Chihuahua Movie of All Time."

Beverly Hills Chihuahua comes to DVD and Blu-ray on March 3rd. Right now, Disney is really experimenting with different lineups for its popular new films. This week, High School Musical 3 received a basic DVD, a premium DVD with digital copy, and a $40-list-priced Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo. The same treatment is also planned for Bolt and Bedtime Stories. Announced earlier, Chihuahua comes to stores in just two flavors: a DVD and a Blu-ray. Each costs less than the premium combinations elsewhere offered, and the DVD contains more than the equally-priced pared-down single discs. The only way to be bummed about this method is if you wanted to own Chihuahua in two or three different mediums, in which case I must ask, "Why?"

Beverly Hills Chihuahua was filmed with the title South of the Border. While we normally don't give too much thought to a movie's name, I think it deserves at least a passing thought here. We'll never know, but I suspect had this title change (first reported a year ago) not occurred, the movie's recognition and returns would have been noticeably reduced. Fewer kids would ask to see it by name, critics may have entered with more open minds, and late night comedians wouldn't have been so amused by its box office success. It all worked out well for Disney (negative buzz included), and I suspect a sequel isn't out of the question.

Buy Beverly Hills Chihuahua on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and
1.33:1 Reformatted Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: March 3, 2009
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.99)
Black Keepcase in Embossed, Holographic Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc


Beverly Hills Chihuahua's DVD includes both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film. The compromised latter starts by default via the disc's FastPlay enhancement. Once begun, you may be at a loss to watch the widescreen version, but it's most easily accessed by selecting the commentary from the menu. Despite holding three hours of film on a single-sided DVD, the visuals in the anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer are just fine. The movie's look is a little more earthy, high contrast, and cinematic than you might expect of a 2008 Disney talking dogs movie. Also satisfying is the Dolby 5.1 track, which is largely relaxed while sampling songs and utilizing Heitor Pereira's pleasant score. It only really comes to life in a few scattered moments, but you're sure to appreciate them if you've got a home theater setup.

A Chihuahua reacts proudly to the narrator's claims in the all-new animated short "Legend of the Chihuahua." Chloe and Monte journey back to an ancient Aztec battle in this deleted scene.


Bonus features begin with the animated short Legend of the Chihuahua (3:07). This cheap, uninspired piece theorizes the history of the diminutive breed with few facts and practically no charm.

Next up are three deleted scenes, which run 10 minutes including their explanatory introductions by director Raja Gosnell. Two dull, weird ones extend the time in "Chihuahua Nation" with a trip to ancient Aztec times.
The third provides an alternate ending. The widescreen footage lacks some animation and effects. If it feels like you're jumping into the section in the middle, that's because Disney decided to make some of the deletions exclusive to Blu-ray.

Standard outtakes reel "Blooper Scooper" (3:07) delivers more canine challenges than human hijinks and goof-ups, but neither class is particularly entertaining.

From the last listing, we get a feature audio commentary by director Raja Gosnell on the widescreen version. I guess that sitting through the movie and talking by himself suggests Gosnell is a good sport. And he certainly is informative. But he's also dry and thus the track is generally slow and unexciting. Among the topics he covers are dog doubles, shooting locations, reshoots born out of test screenings, filming tricks and techniques. At no time does any personality or genuine feeling emerge, even when he's talking about the importance of the end credits disclaimer cautioning against reckless Chihuahua-owning. In short, some of the complaints leveled against Gosnell's work would appear to also apply to his extemporization.

Jamie Lee Curtis is only briefly seen in the film and outtakes from this deleted scene are only glimpsed at in the Blooper Scooper reel. Papi leads the "Chihuahua" a/k/a "Chihuahua 2002" sing-along in this Easter Egg original trailer. Papi swims over to Chloe in the DVD's animated pool main menu.

Navigating your way through the Bonus Features menu turns up an Easter Egg: Beverly Hills Chihuahua's divisive "Chihuahua!" song teaser trailer (1:30). Ten years ago, this would have been a standard offering, but it's more special here and now since featured presentation trailers have grown scarce and almost none of this footage is in the actual film.

While it drops the fullscreen version, the concurrent Blu-ray release adds the aforementioned additional deleted scenes with Gosnell intros, the featurettes "Pet Pals: The Voices Behind the Dogs" and "Hitting Their Bark: On Set with the Dogs of BHC", and the all-important to-be-determined BD-Live interactive stuff.

The disc loads with a Disney company promo, a Disney Blu-ray promo, trailers for Pinocchio: Platinum Edition, Up, Bedtime Stories, and Air Bud: Special Edition, and a Disney Movie Rewards spot. The beach ball-cursored menu adds an ad for new digital cable channel Disney XD.

The menus keep us around Chloe's pool with mostly static imagery and score excerpts. The main menu livens up the still environment with slight, sensible animation.

The DVD's black keepcase slides into the obligatory embossed, holographic cardboard sleeve. Inside, one finds a Blu-ray pamphlet, a coupon/ad booklet, and a Disney Movie Rewards code, but no chapter insert.

Decked in pink booties, Chloe is rather outmatched in an illicit dogfighting ring match. A large gathering of Chihuahuas come to our protagonists' rescue in the Mexican desert.


Beverly Hills Chihuahua isn't as terrible as the dramatic and sing-along ads led you to believe. Sure, at no point does this come close to qualifying as a good time, but it's never as inane as the Buddies sequels. Predictable and formulaic with a two-tiered rescue plot that wears out its welcome, at least the minimally-seen live actors don't quite go through the motions and some fun pop tunes are revisited. Although the feature presentations should leave all pleased, the DVD's bonus features are largely rubbish. You should be in no rush to either see or own this movie.

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Related Reviews:
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2
New to DVD: High School Musical 3: Senior Year • Space Buddies • Air Bud: Special Edition • Oliver & Company (20th Anniversary Edition)
Snow Dogs • Disney DVD Game World: Disney Dogs Edition • Snow Buddies • Air Buddies • The Shaggy Dog (2006) • Underdog • Benji the Hunted
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa • City of Ember • Fireproof • Body of Lies • Bolt • Alvin and the Chipmunks (Special Edition) • That Darn Cat (1997)
2008 Hits: Kung Fu Panda • Horton Hears a Who! • WALL•E • Iron Man • Hancock • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Featuring The Cast of Beverly Hills Chihuahua:
Freaky Friday (2003) • The Lion King • Ocean's Thirteen • Swing Vote • The Prestige • Eli Stone: Season 1

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Beverly Hills Chihuahua Songs List
: Gwen Stefani featuring Eve - "Rich Girl", Kylie Minogue - "Wow", Right Said Fred - "I'm Too Sexy", Buster Poindexter - "Hot Hot Hot", George Thorogood and The Destroyers - "Bad to the Bone", The Latin Soul Syndicate - "Mamasita", Banda Sinaloense El Recodo De Cruz Lizarraga - "El Sauce Y La Palma", "Comme Faccette Mamm", Megan McCauley - "Porcelain Doll", Tag Team - "Whoomp! (There It Is)", Los Pericos - "Caliente", The Cat Empire - "Hello", Los Lonely Boys - "Heaven", Enrique Iglesias - "Hero", D Jon - "Baila", Ricardo Montaner - "Vamos Pa'la Conga", "El Coyote", War - "Low Rider", Luis Oliveira and His Bandodalua Boys - "Chihuahua" a/k/a "Chihuahua 2002", The Pinker Tones - "Whistling Song", Ali Dee - "Chihuahua" a/k/a "Chihuahua 2002", Heitor Pereira - "Llama (Chloe's Theme)"

Reviewed February 21, 2009.

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