First it was 'Marmaduke,' then 'The Search for Santa Paws,' followed by 'Alpha and Omega.' I don't know how it happened, but apparently I've become the resident High-Def Digest critic for all movies featuring crudely animated talking dogs. Now I've moved on to 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.' I think it's a safe bet that the talking dog genre is never going to churn out a good film. These movies are fuel for the kids of the world that for some reason eat this kind of entertainment up. "Look mom, it's so funny because the dog is talking!"
Confession time. I never saw the first 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua.' I know! It seems like a breach of critical ethics right? Well, let me put it to you this way. I sat through the second film in the franchise, and after that experience there's no way in hell I'd sit through the first.
The movie begins with a wedding for two dogs. Papi (George Lopez) and Chloe (Odette Yustman) are joining together in holy K-9 matrimony. Flanked by their owners, who think this is a perfectly acceptable way to spend their own time, watch as a priest administers the marriage vows full of dog-related puns ("For wet nose, or dry nose…"). Still, it's just a silly kids movie so you can't think too seriously about it.
Since this is a sequel, there must be numerous additions to the cast. Those new characters come in the way of Papi and Chloe's new family of pups that they have four months later. Papi regales them with stories of great Chihuahua warriors and how their ancestors used to protect villages in ancient Central America. Just wait til your kid goes to school and repeats that little nugget of historical wisdom to the teacher.
There must be some type of situation that the dogs need to overcome. These situations always involved the humans, who are always too stupid to actually think for themselves. When their dogs end up saving the day they never think, "Geez, those dogs are a lot smarter than I am." Instead they just smile and act like everything is completely normal. Perhaps that's because they're so stupid.
This time around, Papi's owners are going to lose the house that he grew up in after he was adopted from the street. The fact that these dogs can understand abstract ideas like how much money is needed to pay off the family mortgage is something you just shouldn't ponder. I've never understood how in these types of movies the dogs can understand human language so well, but all the humans hear are barks.
Normal doggie hijinks ensue as the dogs try to find ways to get together the money so their owners don't lose their house. Numerous puppy puns are uttered, so many in fact that I wondered if the writers had a contest going to see how many dog puns they could put into a single scene. I assume that would be the only way they could get through a project like this with their sanity still somewhat intact, but perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree.
I didn't outright hate this movie. I've become rather passive about these kinds of films. They know who their audience is and they play to that shamelessly. Still, there are plenty of other much more worthwhile movies out there that your kids could be watching. That is, unless they need to brush up on bad dog jokes. Then 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2' is the movie for them.
The movie may not be good, but the visuals certainly are. The 1080p high definition transfer for 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2' is brightly colored and intricately detailed. Primaries pop off the screen in stunning clarity. Textures and fabrics have fine dimensionality to them. Fine detail works wonders on the little dogs as their fur is completely visible up on screen. Humans are also home to some wonderful detailing as tanned, California faces provide some great closeups.
Shadow delineation is top-notch, providing detail and substance to the low-light scenes. Edges are crisp and precise. Softness never pervades the picture.
The source is clean and I didn't notice any rampant noise issues. As with most Disney releases, everything seems to be in order when it comes to creating a pristine looking transfer.
The only thing in my mind keeping this from a demo-worthy score are the crudely animated doggie mouths that pop open like a bad marionette. I know that it's a nit-picky thing to harp on, but those mouths almost seem like an after thought. I'm still of the opinion that animating the mouths of real-life animals is a complete waste of time. 'Homeward Bound' did just fine with animals that talked only in voiceovers.
'Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2' also features a finely tuned 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that keeps the soundfield lively and active. Dialogue is never lost or muffled. It comes through perfectly from the center and front channels. Even though George Lopez's voice (not to mention his humor) drives me completely up the wall, it's nice that you can hear every word that's being said. I guess.
Directionality works wonders here as puppies clamor for attention off screen for much of the film. Dialogue and errant barking are piped in through the side channels to give us an idea of where the other dogs are. Pans work smoothly as voices and excited doggie voices are moved from the side speaker into the center, and the back out the side as they run across the screen.
The generic salsa-infused soundtrack is given ample room to breath, with the score bleeds into the rear speakers for an encompassing effect. Ambient sound is well-rounded. Activity can be heard in the rear channels during a bubbly dog show, a dangerous bank robbery, and a good old fashioned backyard party.
If your kids con you into buying this for them, at least you know they're getting a very decent audio presentation.
I'm pretty sure you already have your mind made up about 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.' You don't need me to tell you that it's borderline awful. Still, it's got a cute, yet trite little message about acceptance and all that. If your kids are dying to see this one, then it should be fine to keep them occupied for a breezy 80 minutes. Know that they'll be getting a pretty good audio and visual display. The special features are nothing to get excited about and the game included gets really old really fast. I would say avoid this one, unless your kids are begging for it. Even then, it's not too hard to find better movies out there for the youngsters.