A pampered pooch goes on an unexpected adventure but just about everything else in this movie is only too predictable. Drew Barrymore provides the voice for Chloe, a cashmere couture and diamond collar-clad chihuahua. She enjoys the high life with her wealthy owner, Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis), with a full schedule of shopping and parties. But then Viv’s niece Rachel (Piper Perabo) loses Chloe in Mexico and it will require the help of humans and dogs and even a rat and an iguana to get her safely home.
The protected princess must find her way in a world that is dirty and scary but also exciting. She is chased by bad guys with a scary Doberman named Diablo (voice of Edward James Olmos) and tricked by thieves (a rat voiced by Cheech Marin and an iguana voiced by Paul Rodriguez). But she is befriended by a brave German Shepard (voice of Andy Garcia). And her friends come to the rescue: Rachel and Sam, Viv’s handsome landscaper (Colombian actor Manolo Cardona), and Sam’s lion-hearted chihuahua Papi (voice of George Lopez), with the help of Officer Ramirez (Mexican actor Jesus Ochoa).
The trailer makes it look like a light-hearted doggie fish out of water story with a Busby Berkeley-esque musical number that does not appear in the film. Instead it is a lazy strung-together series of sketchy episodes — oh! the sheltered darling got all muddy and lost a bootie! Dear me, the alabaster goddess is surrounded by brown dogs with accents! Will Delgado desert her? Will Diablo catch her? Will Rachel and Sam start to like each other?
A wide range of outstanding Latino performers does not keep this film from an overlay of condescension and caricature. The jokes about couture and beauty treatments and Rachel’s mistaking the landscaper for a non-English-speaking gardener will not mean anything to the film’s target audience of young children. They will enjoy the cute pooches and “tinkle” humor but may be frightened by the mean Doberman and dog-napping bad guys.
It’s a messy, lackluster movie that feels like it was put together by a committee, product, not story, with a soundtrack of over-played, over-familiar, all-but-inevitable radio favorites. Could Cheech Marin ever have predicted that he would once again appear in a movie that features his signature song, “Low Rider,” and that it would be such a dog?