October 3, 2008
Family friendly; live-action comedy
Drew Barrymore, George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Piper Perabo, Manolo Cardona, Andy Garcia, Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez, Placido Domingo
Analisa Labianco (screenplay) and Jeff Bushell (story)
Mandeville Films/Smart Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures
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When Life Goes to the Dogs
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
They often say that it is during times of adversity that we find out who we truly are. When a life-threatening illness comes or we just lost our house and our bank accounts or we lost the luster and fame from a former life, that’s when we discover what’s really important, that’s when we discover who our real friends are, that’s when we discover that maybe we need to change, too, because we aren’t all that and a bag of chips.
I always think it is unfortunate that good times don’t bring out good character. Often, it is the contrary. We tend to forget to be thankful and instead take our blessings for granted. Worse yet, we think it’s because we are so extraordinary that we have been bestowed great blessings.
One thing leads to another, and before we know it, we are experiencing just what the Bible says: pride before a fall. Fortunately, if we take heed and learn the lesson, that fall is softened by the knowledge that in God’s grace our humility can bring future honor. With time, we can become better people, despite the trials we must face.
So, who are you when your life goes to the dogs? If your timeline was on a movie screen, would that reel show an amazing core of character, unearthed at what would seem like your worst, most humiliating moments, or would the celluloid showcase an embittered, self-pitying party pooper?
Well, thankfully, our lives aren’t broadcast on screen. We can simply answer that question vicariously in part through observing the life of a much more diminutive hero, a pooch named Chloe, who is the star canine in Disney’s latest family-friendly, live-action film, Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
Chloe is an unabashedly snooty Chihuahua at film open, prancing around in her designer clothes and being chauffeured around by her besotted owner, Aunt Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis). She lives in a mansion-sized home in beautiful Beverly Hills and wears a diamond collar. Her life is about sipping drinks around the pool, shopping down El Rodeo Drive, and enjoying days of beauty at the doggy spa.
Now, that’s a dog’s life!
But without much warning, Chloe is whisked away to Mexico by a rather irresponsible niece, Rachel (Piper Perabo), when Aunt Viv heads out on a business trip. Through a series of mishaps, Chloe suddenly finds herself wandering on the streets of Mexico without her Hollywood friends, and she is dirty, cold, and hungry. No one recognizes her as the Beverly Hills heiress. No one cares.
Stripped of her title and her identity, Chloe reaches her lowest point. She must decide whether she is going to hold fiercely to the life she once knew or swallow her pride, let it go, and begin a great adventure toward self-discovery that might just bring her the life she always wanted but never knew she wanted. But if she does choose the adventure, that will mean some hardship and discomfort in the process.
Let me pause for a moment.
I know from personal experience that this pride-to-humility trial is a hard lesson to learn. This year I have had my own Chloe moments. I have had those days when I have decided to define myself by some external thing like my job or my material possessions or my popularity only to have that shaken through some kind of humbling circumstance. In those moments of adversity, I experienced that same range of self-righteousness, self-pity, and then that desire to start again fresh and walk a new path as Chloe does in the movie.
Letting go is hard and redefining yourself through a new value system is always challenging, especially when you feel like you’ve got a lot to lose.
But as the Bible says in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (NIV).
For Chloe, she discovers she is more than a handbag dog meant to sit on a rich woman’s lap. She is, at her core, a fierce and mighty warrior with an amazing heritage who can overcome any adversity through her inner strength. This foundational truth allows her to combat evil and open up to true love.
If we were to apply this same pattern to each of us in our Christian faith, so many of us before we knew Christ felt like we had a lot to lose. We defined ourselves by the world’s glittery standards. What? Give up those partying ways? Leave that lucrative but dishonorable profession? Become a “nobody”? You must be crazy!
We held on tightly, just like Chloe, until it was obvious that our lives were way out of control and we realized we were in need of a power beyond ourselves to redirect the course of our lives. Just like Chloe, we suddenly discovered that we were filthy dirty, and we were ashamed.
And then Christ offered us a new life – but not without a price. Before we could experience this new adventure and new identity, we had to willingly lay the old ways down. We had to give up all those things that kept us blinded to our One True Love, Christ Himself. Only then could we “find our bark” as Chloe did.
The same should be true for us now as it was back then. We continually lay ourselves down for the higher purposes of Christ. As the Bible explains, our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3). We no longer live; rather, Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). We are tasked with dying daily to our selfish, prideful view of ourselves. We don’t live for ourselves, expecting the world to wait on us hand and foot. Instead, we make ourselves available for service. And we gain our strength from the power within us – which is Christ, the Risen Lord.
In a very interesting way, Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua unexpectedly challenges us to remember what is truly important in life, a somewhat refreshing twist on what could have been another forgettable dog comedy.
It is a good reminder for each us, especially during this insecure time in our nation’s economy, that when those external trappings of success suddenly disappear, we should reach for those things that can never be taken from us. After all, our security lies in something so much deeper than diamonds, designer duds, and a dreamy domicile. It’s always what – or who – is inside that counts.
Check out Beverly Hills Chihuahua
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More articles by Laura Bagby on CBN.com
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