January 16, 2009
Review - " Hotel for Dogs " (in Theaters) - By Roland Hansen
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“Hotel For Dogs” (Paramount Pictures)
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Starring: Emma Roberts, Jake T Austin, Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin
Dillon, and every canine actor in the state of California.
Emma Roberts’ movie career is progressing nicely. She is playing roles close to
her age and is not moving into adulthood too quickly. Her Aunt Julia should be
proud. Her latest movie, “Hotel For Dogs,” gives her a chance to be at that in
between stage of teenager and adult. She gets to have a boyfriend but the
romance isn’t played too seriously. This is more a movie for dog lovers than
16-year-old Andi (Roberts) and 11-year-old Bruce (Jake T. Austin) are
orphaned siblings who've yet to find a good foster home.The film also stars
Don Cheadle (as Andi and Bruce’s compassionate social worker) and Lisa
Kudrow and Kevin Dillon as the duo’s moronic metal-head foster parents, but
the real stars of “Hotel for Dogs” are the dogs. The kids are all charming but
the script gives all the personality to the four-legged actors and to the hotel
itself,the building is a sprawling, old school masterpiece of grand stairways,
long banquet tables and velvet curtains. Even the pee / poop solutions that
Bruce devises fit in with the hotel’s grandeur.
Andi and Bruce have been in and out of foster homes for the past two years following the death of their parents in a car
accident. They are currently in the foster care of a couple of morons, Lois and Carl Scudder, who are more interested in
their pathetic music career than providing a suitable home for their foster kids. The one constant in their life is their pet dog,
The siblings have managed to keep Friday secret from the Scudders, but after a close call, they let him stay with a few
strays in the abandoned and once grand Francis Drake Hotel. When they are buying dog food for the group they end up
with more dogs that have been dropped off at the pet store. They also end up with Dave and Heather (Johnny Simmons and
Kyla Pratt), who work at the store, to help them with the animals. Before you can say "fetch" the kids are rounding up every
stray in the city and turnign the once luxurious hotel into a sort of doggie paradise.
Bruce is an amatuer inventor and the hotel is soon outfitted with all manner of mechanical devices to keep the dogs
occupied (the best is a car ride simulator), fed , and clean (both a dog wash and a toilet service).
From that point on, Andi and Bruce try to keep their hotel for dogs secret, not only from the Scudders, but also the animal
control officers who'd be more than willing to capture and put those pooches in the pound.
Roberts and company are okay as the human actors but it is the dogs that really steal the show. They are amazing in what
they are required to do and what they actually do. Watching them is the fun of the film.
A lot of what happens in “Hotel For Dogs” can’t be taken
seriously, and children have no problem just accepting what
is shown at face value. It is the adults who might have trouble
swallowing the situations.
The animals are great, the actors are okay, and the plot is so so.
Just try to watch it through the eyes of a child and you will be fine.
Plot aside, it's hard not to like 30 highly trained stunt dogs.
You won't be howling with laughter or at the moon or anything
else, but the movie is surprisingly sweet.