“A filthy-rich fantasy for these cash-strapped times, Beverly Hills Chihuahua features the voices of Drew Barrymore and much of the industry’s top Latino talent in a live-action talking-dog lark that should please young pups. At the same time, it peddles tacky stereotypes in thick Hispanic accents, effectively ceding whatever dignity the breed regained since the ‘Yo quiero Taco Bell’ campaign went off the air. One thing’s for sure: The Mouse House will realize a fine balance of trade on this one.” — from Peter DeBruge‘s 9.29 Variety review.

“The film paints Mexico as a dangerous place full of conmen and criminals. Shivering in her custom pink booties, with only a surly German Shepherd named Delgado (Andy Garcia) to help her, Chloe must contend with a dog-fighting Doberman (Edward James Olmos), a sticky-fingered street rat (Cheech Marin), an immigrant-smuggling coyote (Ed F. Martin) and a sinister-looking thug (Jose Maria Yazpik) who aims to ransom Chloe back to her owner. Kids won’t pick up on the politically incorrect subtext, of course.”
Do you think all these Latin actors are proud of helping to keep alive cultural stereotypes about dangerous predatory Mexicans? DeBruge’s review seems to confirm what I’ve been sensing all along, which is that BHC is a movie about Mexico aimed at people who like Cancun or Acapulco but wouldn’t touch the “real” Mexico with a ten foot pole. People who love to hang out in malls for the immaculate if ungenuine sensation that malls convey of being surrounded in luxury. A group, in short, that probably likes the idea of John McCain a little more than they do Barack Obama if only because of their cultural xenophobia.
Another thing to bank on, or certainly a truism that I swear by: a real-life singing Chihuahua is infinitely preferable to digital ones with headdresses, singing and dancing and swarming over a Mayan pyramid like ants.