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Movie Review

Her life as a Beverly Hills dog

Piper Perabo (left) and Jamie Lee Curtis star in ''Beverly Hills Chihuahua.'' Piper Perabo (left) and Jamie Lee Curtis star in ''Beverly Hills Chihuahua.'' (Joe lederer)
By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / October 3, 2008
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For most of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," all I could think about was Drew Barrymore. What might she have been up to while she recited her lines for Chloe, the spoiled yet sad-looking live-action Chihuahua that speaks in her voice. Did she keep a Diet Coke in her recording booth? Did she flip through an Us Weekly between takes, or send Cameron Diaz annoyed text messages. ("OMG, how did u do 3 Shreks? So bored.")

And what about when George Lopez was around? He does the voice of Papi, the Chihuahua who comes to Chloe's rescue after Mexican dogfighters nab her and she finds herself virtually homeless in Mexico City. Did Lopez and Barrymore have to share a microphone when Chloe tells Papi, "Tú eres mi corazón?" It's hard to imagine.

When Andy Garcia came in to do his work as Delgado, the gruff Mexican German Shepherd with the heart of gold, did he pass the time staring at the check from Walt Disney? Does Andy Garcia have direct deposit?

Did he get to share a booth with Edward James Olmos, who does the voice of Diablo, the champion Mexican fighting dog. And how exactly do you say to Plácido Domingo, "Plácido, we've got this great film part for you. It's a dog." Did Paul Rodriguez and Cheech Marin have to think twice about having to play an iguana and a rat, both Mexican? "What, we don't get to be dogs, too?"

There are humans. Manolo Cardona plays Sam, a landscaper who goes with pampered Rachel (Piper Perabo) to look for Chloe (who belongs to Aunt Jamie Lee Curtis). Rachel is a nitwit, but Sam is crazy about her anyway.

If I were a Latino actor and my agent sent me a script about a rich Chihuahua with white fur who goes slumming with mangy brown dogs south of the border, who attends a breed's uprising inside Aztec ruins ("We Chihuahuas shake not for the amusement of humans. We shake because we have souls!" Or something like that), the movie might give me pause. Forget the metaphors, why not just make a movie about poor, exploited Mexicans?

The agent would roll her eyes. "Kids don't want to see that movie. They want to see the movie where the Chihuahua rides a train, wears a diamond necklace, faces mountain lions, licks the stuffing out of Jamie Lee Curtis, and sounds cute, like Drew Barrymore. In this economy, that movie will be a smash." And the agent would be correct.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Directed by: Raja Gosnell

Written by: Analisa LaBianco and Jeffrey Bushell

Starring the voices of: Drew Barrymore, George Lopez, Edward James Olmos, and Andy Garcia

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 84 minutes

Rated: PG (some mild thematic elements)

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