Usually when the weekend rolls around and a kids’ movie has opened I, resign myself to the fact that I’m going to have to sit through it, no matter how hard I try to resist. The child and her need for a “happy movie experience” will win out. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it. Really, there is nothing wrong with following the lemmings right off the edge of the cliff, is there? I could have just dug my heels in and said, “Let’s go to the museum, honey, because I really don’t want to be seen shelling out money for something thought up in a focus group that exists for the sole purpose of capitalist greed.” I could’ve said that. But instead I said, “Sure, honey, I’ll take you to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua!”
Wait, wait, wait. Before you sit in judgment, at least admit that you paid to see it too. Come on, you know you did. And you know you laughed a lot during it. And you even teared up a few times, didn’t you? Come on, admit it, you cried. I know I’m not the only over-40 beleaguered parent who cried not once but several times during Beverly Hills Chihuahua. I can’t be the only one!
Beverly Hills Chihuahua is the ultimate bait and switch. The ad campaign made it look like a film about a pretty young girl in charge of a pack of dogs. Every girl I knew personally, and even some I didn’t know, wanted to see this movie. Kids were singing the theme song months before the film opened. It had reached maximum saturation.
The film, though, is quite a bit different from what it purported to be. Sure, it has lots of talking dogs dressed up in people’s clothes, and it has an overload of cuteness crowded into every frame, but it is slyly a movie with a hidden agenda aimed at kids. It is entertaining enough, but at the same time it opens kids’ hearts to the concept of strays, what it means to rescue an animal, and the value of all dogs, not just purebreds.
The pretty girl turns out to be Piper Perabo, playing the shallow socialite niece of Jamie Lee Curtis, forced to dog-sit for a week. However, this isn’t just any dog; it’s a dog its owner loves enough to schedule pedicures and hair-dressing appointments for, not to mention buying real diamond collars for.
The niece decides to take the prized pooch to Mexico on vacation where the dog proceeds, through a series of implausible events, to get herself scooped up by dog-fighting criminals, and is then forced to defend herself. From there, the little dog collects friends as Dorothy did on her way to Oz. Okay, so no one ever said it was the most original film ever made.
But it turns out, by some odd twist of fate, taking one’s child to this movie wasn’t as shameful an experience as it might have been, especially if you’re a dog lover and you don’t object to the whole anthropomorphizing thing. And if you do, well, you can skip it. But if one day you find yourself flipping the remote repeatedly past all of the channels and the only movie on is Beverly Hills Chihuahua, check your maturity at the door and enjoy the entertaining movie. Just make sure no one catches you.