When Beverly Hills Chihuahua was released last fall, I was surprised to see it become the No.1 movie of the weekend. However, I figured that was just a fluke due to lack of real competition. But when the film stayed at the top for several more weeks, I began to think that maybe there was some merit to it after all, despite what the professional critics and IMDb users said in their reviews. I didn’t go see the film in theaters, but rented it almost as soon as the DVD became available. Turns out the film wasn’t as bad as the dismal 2.7 rating on IMDb seems to imply.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Chloe the Chihuahua (voiced by Drew Barrymore) is a pampered Beverly Hills pooch owned by fashion diva Vivian (played by Jamie Lee Curtis). Chloe gets treated much better than most people do, and is the sort of dog who wears outfits and matching booties all the time, eats with their owner in restaurants, has birthday parties with doggie friends, rides around in oversized Louis Vuitton handbags, and gets regular spa treatments.
Things all change when Vivian must suddenly go to Paris on business, deciding to leave Chloe entrusted to the care of her niece Rachel (Piper Perabo). As soon as Vivian is out of the way, the irresponsible Rachel immediately discards all of her instructions and packs Chloe up for a weekend in Mexico with a few of Rachel’s friends. Rachel is so consumed by partying and having fun that she neglects Chloe’s needs, prompting the dog to escape from their hotel room to try to find a decent meal on her own.
Chloe, who wears an expensive Harry Winston diamond necklace as a collar, is a prime target for local dognappers, who bring the pooch to a dog fighting operation, of all places. Chloe manages to escape with the help of a German Shepherd named Delgado (voiced by Andy Garcia), but not before attracting the notice of a man in the crowd, who immediately realizes that Chloe could be worth a lot in terms of ransom money. The man sets his scary Doberman El Diablo (voiced by Edward James Olmos) on Chloe’s trail, and tracks the action with a GPS device.
The rest of the film then shows how Chloe tries to make her way back to Beverly Hills with Delgado’s help. El Diablo is never far behind, and constantly puts the other two dogs in dangerous situations. Meanwhile, Rachel, aided by Vivian’s landscaper Sam (Manolo Cardona), try to follow Chloe’s trail and catch up to the dog before Aunt Viv returns from Paris.
My Reaction: Okay, so maybe Beverly Hills Chihuahua isn’t going to win any Oscars, but it wasn’t as completely horrible as you might think given the overwhelmingly negative reactions to the film. I thought it was entertaining in a mindless, sit-back-and-enjoy-the-popcorn kind of way. Drew Barrymore and Andy Garcia were both great as the main voice actors, and though the plot was predictable, at least the script moved things right along and didn’t veer off into unnecessary tangents along the way. There were just a couple of slow spots; otherwise nearly every single scene was relevant to the main plot.
I’ve been trying to figure out why the IMDb average rating is just 2.7 stars…. I can think of several films that were much worse than Beverly Hills Chihuahua in terms of entertainment value, but that have a higher rating on that site. Of course, I know by now not to base my movie viewing decisions on what IMDb users think, but still, it’s kind of puzzling that this film rates so low.
Overall, if you want to see a fun little movie that the whole family can enjoy, you could do a lot worse than Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Frankly, between this and the last film I saw (Two Lovers, which is already receiving awards buzz), I’d much rather sit through Beverly Hills Chihuahua again! I give it 3 stars out of 5.