A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Beverly Hill Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta! is the third installment in the popular talking-dog franchise. Featuring less menacing situations than the previous two films, the "threequel" is a celebration of the Latin American tradition of the quinceañera -- albeit with a dog as the celebrant, not a human. There's nothing questionable in the movie beyond a few jokes about "pee mail" between dogs. Although there aren't many product placements, there are several pop culture references (mostly to rock bands), and there's a tiny bit of romance between a pit bull and a posh show dog. Older preschoolers ready for live-action films and grade schoolers will enjoy this doggie comedy that teaches about Mexican culture and the importance of family.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Now married Rachel (Erin Cahill) and Sam Cortez (Marcus Coloma) still live in her wealthy aunt's Beverly Hills mansion with their beloved dogs Papi (voiced by George Lopez), Chloe (Odette Annable), and their five puppies. While the couple is applying for live-in jobs as a sous chef and a landscape designer at a luxury hotel, manager Mr. Hollis (Cedric Yarbrough) spots Chloe and says that Rachel and Sam can have the jobs if Chloe can be photographed as the hotel's dog model for their various pet-friendly amenities. Meanwhile, the youngest pup, Rosita (Kay Panabaker), prepares for her traditional quinceañera party, while Papi and his brother, Pedro (Ernie Hudson), uncover a rival's plot to steal the hotel's clientele and ruin the Cortez family's livelihood.
Is it any good?
While it's rare to find a direct-to-DVD sequel that stands up against its theatrically released original, this one's surprisingly amusing and considerably less frightening than the first two movies. The quinceañera plotline is particularly entertaining, as Papi and the event coordinator pug audition several bands with names obviously aimed at parents, like Bob Marley and Me, Black Labbath, and more. The dogs even "sing" in the same style as the human bands they're tributing. The discussions of the cultural significance of the quinceañera are also a nice multicultural lesson for kids unfamiliar with the tradition.
Although the secondary story involving the humans is pretty thin, this isn't a movie you watch for the people. It's all about the dogs, and at least in this one, the action focuses primarily on Papi and what an attentive and unconditionally supportive husband, father, and pet he is -- making sure his pups are safe and well-educated, doting on his overworked wife, trying to help his brother land the dog of his dreams, and uncovering a rival hotelier's plan. Lopez is a talented comedian, and it's ultimately his voice that makes this Chihuahua flick work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the continuing popularity of talking pet movies. Why are live-action films with dogs that speak such an enduring trend?
What does Papi teach the puppies about the Mexican tradition of the quinceañera? How does Rosita finally feel independent enough to deserve the party?
All three Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies deal with the theme of status. How is Pedro's romance with the VIP dog similar to Papi and Chloe's or Sam and Rachel's? What finally wins her over?
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