So everyone is pretty up in arms over the box-office success of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. How did a movie like this possibly make it to number one, besides the fact that there aren’t any other no-thinking-required movies out during this economic panic and people really don’t like to think during times of crisis? Besides the other fact that kids like to see stupid movies, and while adults might be cutting back on spending, they might still be willing to splurge on a movie for the kids because it’s easier to take them to a movie then have to explain the impending apocalypse? Yes, besides those things, how did this movie dupe so many people into seeing it?
Now, besides the annoying outer level involving excess and privilege, I’m guessing that the movie is just another talking animal movie. And I can’t hate it for that. After seeing the commercials and hearing people complain about the movie, I decided to draw up a list of ridiculous movies I loved as a child that would sound equally lame if you were just to read the premise and not see the movie (plot summaries below are taken straight from imdb.com). Keep in mind that before some of these were classics, people did have to take that first leap and see these in the theaters, even after seeing some probably horrible trailers. Of course, Beverly Hills Chihuahua will never be as awesome as any of my top “10,” but let’s at least allow this generation of kids to have their 90 minutes of talking animals. They’re pretty used to this kind of garbage (being the Hannah Montana generation) so their expectations are probably pretty low.
1. a. *batteries not included (1987)—”A group of tenants in an apartment block are being forced to move out so that it can be demolished. The tenants are reluctant to move, so the developers hire a local gang to ‘persuade’ them to leave. Fortunately, visiting alien mechanical life-forms come to town. When they befriend the tenants, the aliens use their extraterrestrial abilities to defeat the developers.”
1. b. Short Circuit (1986)—”Number 5, one of a group of experimental military robots, undergoes a sudden transformation after being struck by lightning. He develops self-awareness, consciousness, and a fear of the reprogramming that awaits him back at the factory. With the help of a young woman, Number 5 tries to evade capture and convince his creator that he has truly become alive.” Favorite scene: when Number 5 seduces Ally Sheedy. Robot sex taught me a lot. Also, despite its awesomeness, don’t forget how racist this movie was.
2. Gremlins (1984)—”A loveable but mysterious exotic pet brought home from Chinatown becomes the source of a slew of miseries for an American suburb when the Mogwai’s owners disobey a few basic precautions and help spawn a host of evil creatures.” Seriously, how did our parents let us watch this?
3. Look Who’s Talking Now (1993)—My personal favorite of the Look Who’s Talking series, often overlooked by normal, logical people. “In this, the third film, the pets do the talking. The Ubriaccos find themselves the owners of two dogs; Rocks, a street wise cross breed, and Daphne, a spoiled pedigree poodle.”
4. Little Monsters (1989)—Howie Mandell and the Savage brothers have never quite managed to find other work that lives up to this seminal movie. “A child meets the monster that lives under his bed and even becomes one of his best friends. Soon the child discovers a whole new world of fun and games where pulling pranks on kids and other monsters is the main attraction.”
5. Purple People Eater (1988)—If you haven’t seen this, you really missed out. Neil Patrick Harris AND Dustin Diamond are in it. “A kid plays the old novelty song, ‘Purple People Eater,’ and the creature actually appears. The two then proceed to help an elderly couple who are being evicted by their greedy landlord.” I’m noticing weird creature/robot/greedy landlord themes in the ’80s. Effects of Reaganomics?
6. E.T. (1982)—”A group of aliens visit earth and one of them is lost and left behind stranded on this planet. The alien is found by a 10-year-old-boy, Elliot. Soon the two begin to communicate, and start a different kind of friendship in which E.T. learns about life on earth and Elliot learns about some new values for the true meaning of friendship. E.T. wants to go home, but if Elliot helps him, he’ll lose a friend.” I’ve seen this movie about one million time, and it taught me the word “douchebag.” I owe my sailor mouth to adorable E.T.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)—My favorite imdb-synopsis ever: “Through contact with a mysterious substance, called Ooze, four little turtles in the canalization of New York mutate into giant turtles. They can speak, walk upright, and love pizza. The wise rat Splinter becomes their mentor and educates them to be Ninja fighters. Their arch-enemy is the bad, bad guy Shredder, who struggles to gain power over the world. Of course the ninja turtles will do everything to stop him.”
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)—”‘Toon star Roger is worried that his wife Jessica is playing pattycake with someone else, so the studio hires detective Eddie Valiant to snoop on her. But the stakes are quickly raised when Marvin Acme is found dead and Roger is the prime suspect. Groundbreaking interaction between the live and animated characters, and lots of references to classic animation.” The sad thing is, it really was groundbreaking.
9. a. Babe (1995)—I didn’t actually see this movie, and its popularity annoyed me because I thought it was copying Charlotte’s Web (I was a snobby 10-year-old, what can I say), but it’s pretty relevant to the list. “Babe is a little pig who doesn’t quite know his place in the world. With a bunch of odd friends, like Ferdinand the duck who thinks he is a rooster, and Fly, the dog he calls mom, Babe realizes that he has the makings to become the greatest sheep pig of all time, and Farmer Hogget knows it. With the help of the sheep dogs, Babe learns that a pig can be anything that he wants to be.”
9. b. Homeward Bound (1993)—Now this is a talking animal movie. Rich chihuahuas don’t have anything on these three. “The adventure begins when the loving owners of three irresistible pets (Chance, a fun-loving American bulldog pup; Sassy, a hilarious Himalayan cat who lives up to her name; and Shadow, a wise old golden retriever) are forced to leave them in the temporary care of a friend who lives hundreds of miles away. But after several days, the animals begin to worry their family must be in trouble, so they decide to head for home. On their incredible journey across the ruggedly beautiful Sierras, they encounter unexpected surprises from man, beast, and nature alike.”
10. The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988)—”After her father’s ship is carried off by a sudden storm, the spunky Pippi Longstocking is stranded with her horse, Alfonso, and her pet monkey, Mr. Neilson, and takes up residence in the old family home, which is thought by neighborhood children to be haunted. Soon, two children, Tommy and his sister Anika, venture into the house only to meet up with Pippi. The three soon become friends and get into various adventures together, including cleaning the floor with scrubbing shoes, dodging the “splunks,” going down a waterfall in barrels, and helping Pippi with the problem of having to go to an orphanage.” Let’s not forget when Pippi flies by spinning around really fast.