October 6, 2008
So what do George Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Andy Garcia, Cheech Marin, and even Univision Radio’s “Piolin” have in common? They all lent their voices to the latest Walt Disney movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which was #1 in the box office this past weekend with an estimated $29 million opening. And yes, yours truly saw it.
Look, I certainly wasn’t seeking to challenge my brain. And unlike most Latinos, I don’t often go out to see movies on their opening weekend (I’ve seen many a film for the first time on airplanes). But the trailer for this movie definitely piqued my curiosity. It looked funny. It was either going to be hilariously stupid or stupidly hilarious. I was also intrigued by the large number of well-known Latino actors whose voices are heard in the movie. And it includes a cameo (on-screen) by popular Mexican comedic actor Eugenio Derbez.
The movie met my expectations. I laughed, and I was pleasantly intrigued with how much the Miami Beach audience of which I was part really enjoyed the movie. Spanish and Spanglish (and Spanish sub-titles) popped up here and there. And George Lopez and Andy Garcia did not disappoint me. I was even impressed with the performance of opera great Placido Domingo, who was the voice of “Monte” (short for “Moctesuma”), the great leader of the Chihuahua empire (I know, I know, stop cringing).
I don’t know how many Hispanics showed up to see “Chihuahua” but we know that we Latinos way over-index on opening weekends, so I’m sure there were plenty of us. Especially since the LA Times is reporting that 70% of the opening weekend audience for “Chihuahua were families, and I would say that my Miami Beach audience was close to this. And this being Miami, it was not suprising to see plenty of Hispanic families. But there were also plenty of Anglo families.
What I wasn’t expecting, but pleased, to see were all the on-location scenes from Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and either Ensenada or Rosarito (Baja California). There was even a reference (I don’t know if they actually shot anything there) to the Mexican state where I hail from, Chihuahua–ah-HOO-ah!
I was also suprised with the occasional more serious moments, which were long enough to add brief suspense (think “Amores Perros” and even undocumented immigration–yes, even this!) but short enough not to break the humorous flow of the film. After all, this is a movie about talking animals so I was very pleasantly impressed that midway through the film, movie-goers are actually given a very brief but helpful lesson on the “Dia De Los Muertos” holiday. Nice touch.
I’m happy for the Latino actors who took part in this movie. I’m not surprised that it’s a Walt Disney picture–kudos to Disney. I’m always intrigued with the potential that filmmakers, and we marketers, have to create things that simultaneously borrow liberally from Latino culture and are universally-appealing. I loved “Amores Perros” but I wouldn’t recommend this movie for kids. But you should take your kids to go see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” And for you, it will be like a spa for your cerebro.