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Movie Review:
Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Beverly Hills Chihuahua -- Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

PG for mild thematic elements.
Recommended for ages 3 and up
Run Time: 85 minutes
Quick Take: A delightful treat for young pups, parents might be surprised how much Chihuahua gets their tails wagging, too.

This Fluffy Chihuahua Adventure Is No Lightweight

My kids weren't old enough to see Homeward Bound when it came out in theaters. But I remember sitting on my couch expecting to take a nap during the movie about a pair of talking dogs and a cat, only to find myself shedding a tear -- OK, weeping -- when Sassy, Chance, and Shadow bounded out of the woods.

I suspect it was much the same for a bunch of us recently during Beverly Hills Chihuahua, figuring we were doing our parental duty by attending a kids' movie about a bunch of pampered dogs who live better than we do (not that I'm bitter), only to find ourselves shedding a tear -- OK, weeping -- at the finale. I won't divulge the details, just that I've come to accept that the sight of a pooch or kitty in peril incites the same amount of waterworks as say, the last scene of Casablanca.

After all the indignities of being carried around in Paris Hilton's handbag and dyed pink, chihuahuas at last get their moment of cinematic glory, rising from the silk lining of their Louis Vuitton carriers to impart the brave mantra, "We are Chihuahua. Hear us bark."

Equal parts The Simple Life and Homeward Bound, the film adorably mines the charms of puppy love, following pampered pooch Chloe, lost on the mean streets of Mexico, living like -- egads! -- a dog, befriending sage German shepherd Delgado, and fleeing dognapper Vasquez and his menacing Doberman, Diablo.

With so many droopy ears and wagging tails -- not to mention energetic canine personalities thanks to the voice talents of Drew Barrymore (Chloe), Andy Garcia (Delgado), and George Lopez (Papi), among others --- it's a sure bet that kids will leave the theater wanting the Chihuahua DVD, or more likely ... the Chihuahua. It's all a lot less Legally Chihuahua (doggies in tiaras, doggies at the spa) than the name or the trailers might imply, with good-natured humor and a surprising amount of suspense. I humbly admit to joining little voices yelling, "Run Chloe, run!" as Diablo closed in, and to cheering a hearty "Yay!" when puppies rose and conquered. It's all very Saturday-matinee, harking back to the old days, when Timmy heard the frantic barking, looked down at his loyal collie and asked, "What are you trying to tell me, girl?" That the heroic Lassie could be a Chihuahua named Papi with a big belly and a four-inch inseam (four of them) has got to brighten the spirits of little dogs everywhere.

It might even make up for coloring them pink.

Kids Will Like:
What kid doesn't love puppies? This movie has hundreds of them (in one scene, literally hundreds), enthralling kids with their droopy ears and puppy-dog faces. The main characters are particularly appealing thanks to the actors who do a great job to give each one a puppy personality. There's lots to laugh at, most notably an oddball pair of con artists (a packrat and his sidekick, a kvetchy iguana), plus lots of stinky dog humor. Some kids will love the dressed-up Beverly Hills pooches. One tot said they looked like American Girl dolls.

Parents Will Like:
Except for the scary stuff, this is a vintage family adventure, with nice touches like the appearance of Placido Domingo as the voice of an oddly loveable Yoda to a secret society of Chihuahuas. Extra kudos to Piper Perabo for an inspired impersonation of a Chihuahua.

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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