Oh, wow. I really can't believe I'm actually reviewing a movie called 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua.' If ever there was a film I wanted to watch less, I can't remember it. Given that fact, it is with all the more disbelief that I actually have to admit that 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' isn't all that bad. No, it's not really good, either, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't slightly cave in to its meager charms by film's end. Quite simply, the biggest praise I can pay it is that there are a lot worse movies out there than this.
The story is sort of like 'Legally Blonde' meets a Taco Bell commercial. Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) is the world most spoiled dog, a little Beverly Hills diva with a diamond-encrusted collar. But when her fashionista owner (Jamie Lee Curtis) leaves for a trip, and her lame-brained personal assistant (Piper Perabo) loses Chloe, the poor little chihuahua embarks on a dangerous adventure through locations great and small to return to her posh Beverly Hills existence. Lost with no survival skills, she teams up with the pooch who has a crush on her (George Lopez), and even some rough trade in the form of German shepard Delgado (Andy Garcia). How much do you want to bet that Chloe will eventually be rescued, but return home having learned some lessons in human (er, canine) humility along the way?
'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' is one of those movies that I watched with my hands always ready to cover my eyes, waiting for the next cringe-worthy moment. And there are certainly plenty of them. There's something painful about watching slumming stars like Curtis and Perabo make funny faces at talking dogs with bad CGI-enhanced lips, clearly embarrassed that they had to stoop this low to pay the rent. And the endless insertion by director Raja Gosnell (the 'Scooby-Doo' live-action movies) of well-known songs on the soundtrack just so we can enjoy another insufferably cute doggy montage set to the "Macarena" is the height of annoying cheesiness. It's this hard-sell approach to shoving the film's concept down our throats that is the most irritating aspect of 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua.' The movie is about as subtle as, well, one of those Taco Bell commercials with the talking chihuahua.
Where 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' did kinda win me over was with the dogs themselves. I enjoyed the vocal performances, particularly by Barrymore and Garcia, who manage to inject some humanity into all the silliness they are asked to speak. And, if not without irony, the canine characters are far more fleshed out than their human counterparts. I enjoyed all the adventures, and mangy mutts they ran into on their adventure. In fact, the humans are more hindrances than helpful -- it's when 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' plays like a dog version of a road movie that it begins to hint at what might had been. Perhaps if Gosnell and screenwriters Analisa LaBianco and Jeffrey Bushell had just immersed themselves in the doggy world they created and ditched the lame human drama, we might have had a (gulp) little sleeper on our hands.
Still, the tagline on the front of the Blu-ray box for 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' calls it "The Greatest Chihuahua Movie of All Time." I guess I can't really disagree. It's also the only chihuahua movie ever made, so I guess that's faint praise. I suppose that if this movie needed to be made, this is probably the best version of it possible. If you have a penchant for talking dog movies, or just want to waste 91 minutes on perfectly enjoyable, vapid entertainment, 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' is worth a bark or two.
(One last note. I watched 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' with my dog, Bailey, a giant white labrador retriever, by my side. He was transfixed the entire time. I suspect that, if nothing else, 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' may be worth a rental for dog-owning Blu-ray fans, as it makes a great pupsitter.)
Walt Disney presents 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video (2.40:1). This is a nice, if nondescript, looking movie that looks more-than-pleasant in high-def.
The film enjoys a bright, colorful visual style, if one that hardly has any artistic pretensions. The source is in great shape, with solid blacks and contrast that's vibrant. Typical of a new release, there is fine depth to the picture and much visible detail. Colors were perhaps a bit too oversaturated and artificial for my taste, but at least it's eye-popping. Fleshtones are generally accurate. Also a drawback is a slight flattening of contrast in the mid-range, which boosts shadow detail but also dulls the image. The encode is clean, with a bit of noise but otherwise no major artifacts.
'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' receives the DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround treatment (48kHz/24-bit). It probably won't surprise you to hear that, if a perfectly fine soundtrack, this is hardly your new demo disc of choice.
The material is hardly demanding stuff. 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' is light comedy, with a few strong uses of score and songs, which nicely fill out the soundstage. The rears are fairly active with some discrete effects -- it's all bouncy and bright. Otherwise, the star of the show are barking dogs and dialogue, which sounds nicely recorded and balanced in the fronts. The subwoofer doesn't have much to do, but low bass is perfectly adequate and dynamic range is fairly wide and polished. A nice comedy soundtrack, if nothing more.
Disney hasn't produced a particularly extensive batch of standard supplements for 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua.' What we do get is pretty promotional in nature. At least it all looks good, with video materials presented in full 1080 video. (Note: Disney has included some deleted scenes on the DVD of 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua,' but also some extra ones exclusive to the Blu-ray. So I lumped them all together in the section below.)
'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' is, I guess, about the best movie you could expect about talking chihuahuas. It's harmless, family-friendly fun, if pretty darn stupid. This Blu-ray is a nice package, with well-done video and audio, and plenty of supplements and exclusives. 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' is hardly good enough to recommend a purchase, but I guess it's worth a rental if you're into talking dog movies.