Undersize lapdogs make me grumpy even when they don't talk, wear pink booties, and shop Rodeo Drive. So I came to Beverly Hills Chihuahua with poison pen at the ready — only to be won over by the exuberant charms of Raja Gosnell's comedy about a snobby, privileged Chihuahua named Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) and her similarly spoiled-rotten 90210 dog sitter (Piper Perabo). The two grow some backbone when they get lost in the bowels of Baja, where the pooch must be rescued from the clutches of Mexican dogfight wranglers. If the studios are finally going to make their mark on Latino audiences, they could do a lot worse than this wicked satire on Beverly Hills pet excess, with its sharp script, a fun performance by Jamie Lee Curtis as Chloe's overindulgent owner, and a mostly Spanish-speaking cast that includes Andy Garcia as a clapped-out police dog, Cheech Marin as a cunning rat who's after Chloe's Harry Winston collar, and George Lopez as another Chihuahua who loves Chloe from the wrong side of the tracks. This being Disney, wholesome character-building messages abound, but for once they're freshly spun as cautions against stereotyping both ethnic and canine. And if, having seen Beverly Hills Chihuahua, your children grow up without the desire to turn their pets into idiot fashion accessories or extensions of their own shopaholic fantasies, so much the better.
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