A family investigates its home to discover a hidden, locked basement. That boarded-up basement is one of the turning points in the excellent new horror film The Conjuring. An unexpected basement also happens to be a plot device in the straight-to-video family film Chihuahua Too!That is where the similarity ends. In this year of cinematic basements, the former movie is one of the year’s best; the latter is one of the worst.
People will buy anything with a cute dog on the cover, and the big-eyed fur-ball pictured on the glistening cover of Chihuahua Too! is an adorable huckster indeed. But do not be fooled by the pair of glowing reviews on Amazon, pieces clearly written by people who sold their opinion for peanuts. I have seen a lot of direct-to-video talking animal movies, and a lot of bad direct-to-video talking animal movies, but Chihuahua Too! stands out in its cuddly mediocrity.
This sequel to the direct-to-video Chihuahua, Chihuahua Too! answers a need that I cannot imagine existed, but the idea actually sounds like something I would want to see. The ghost of a silent movie era dog star haunts a family who have taken charge of a mansion that has been in the family for generations. Chihuahua Too has marginally better production values than any of the David DeCoteau straight-to-video talking animal movies that have rightfully earned a cult following. Those movies, like the terrible but wonderful An Easter Bunny Puppy, suffer from bad lighting, acting, and writing, the surreal re-use of locations and stock footage from film to film, and wall-to-wall royalty free music cues. But there is a kind of innocence to their awfulness, at least as innocent as you can get from a director who also churns out soft-core gay porn and who is clearly in it for the money.
Chihuahua Too! barely beats out An Easter Bunny Puppy on technical merits, but the script completely fails its promising concept. Its dialogue barely resembles human conversation. Characters exclaim “Holy messaroni” and “Jiminy crickets,” wealthy dowagers sing “Camp town races.” With a script this bad, period verisimilitude is the last thing you would expect the producers to get right, but the attempts to recreate vintage photographs, books and silent film look nothing like the intended vintage. It would take a thoughtful designer a few extra minutes to come up with a better look for these supposed vintage specimens, but thoughtfulness is an absent virtue on this no-budget sandlot.
I would like to imagine that the screenwriter used William S. Burroughs’ cut-up method to shuffle random dialogue from public domain movies and stitch them together. I can think of no other reason for such an incoherent messaroni.