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Beverly Hills Chihuahua


Stars: Piper Perabo, Jamie Lee Curtis, Manolo Cardona. Voices: Drew Barrymore, Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, George Lopez, Luis Guzman

Director: Raja Gosnell

A really nice surprise from Disney. Not another lowbrow comedy, but an animal adventure film with talking dogs, and one that enthralled an audience of eight-to-10-year-old girls at the preview.

Chloe (Barrymore) is the pampered pet of Beverly Hills fashionista Vivian (Curtis, camping it up) who, off on a trip, gets her niece Rachel (Perabo) to look after Chloe. Well, Rachel gads off on a jaunt to Mexico, where Chloe escapes from her hotel and, posh coat, diamond collar, booties and all, gets dognapped by a nasty type (Jose Maria Yazpik, exuding real menace) who organises dogfights.

Pitched in against Diablo, a huge rottweiler, Chloe is rescued by ex-police dog Delgado (a rumbling Garcia), who leads a mass canine break-out. As Chloe and Delgado hit the road - and the railroad cars - hotly pursued by Diablo and his master, who sniffs ransom money - a desperate Rachel, accompanied by her mother's landscape gardener (a nicely low-key performance by Cardona) and his own down-and-dirty chihuahua who is, of course, in love with Chloe, joins the hunt.

Meanwhile, Chloe is conned out of her diamond collar by a pack rat and his accomplice, a giant iguana. A nice touch has stray dogs picked up along the way and found homes, while Chloe and Delgado encounter a wily coyote, mountain lions, the rat and iguana (again) and a lost city of chihuahuas.

Youngsters will swallow the pedigree yarn whole, while the dogs' lines are often witty and rarely cloying, with Delgado a particularly winning character. Directed at a very fast pace by Gosnell, the film's 90 minutes flash by, and the 'live' animal actors - more than 30 animal trainers are credited - are superb.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
90 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Jan 2009