‘Hotel for Dogs’: This dog film will leave parents with homework

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Friday, January 16, 2009 6:09pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

If you’re a dog lover and you’ve recovered from the trauma of “Marley &Me,” here’s a kids’ movie that ends up in la-la land, not the realities of the canine life cycle.

It’s “Hotel for Dogs,” an adaptation of a book by prolific writer Lois Duncan. The movie treats a set of horrible circumstances in the lightest way possible.

First we meet a pair of orphaned siblings, who have been bounced around from one foster home to the next. Andi (Emma Roberts) is 16, her little brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) is 11. Veteran shoplifters and scam artists, they have adopted a mutt — although their current foster parents don’t know about that yet.

The foster parents are aspiring rock musicians played by Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon. Cruel and thoughtless (not to mention pitifully untalented), they don’t create much sense of home and hearth.

Andi and Bruce do that for themselves, by taking over an abandoned hotel and installing dozens of stray dogs there. How’d they get all those doggies? By breaking into the pound and stealing them.

Now, I realize this is just a kids’ movie. It’s all fantasy and silliness, and that’s great. There’s a certain wish fulfillment in allowing children a fantasy about caring for animals on their own, and this probably worked well in the pages of a children’s book.

But still. Of course the movie depicts the employees at the pound to be evil jerks who look forward to euthanizing the pets in their care.

Clearly a statement from the Dog Pound Anti-Defamation Society is called for. And they’d be right.

The movie’s adult role model is Don Cheadle, as the social-services guy in charge of placing Andi and Bruce in a home. In which case, he has a lot to answer for: No sane person would hand the children over to the irresponsible (and only occasionally funny) rockers played by Kudrow and Dillon.

Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia) is amiable, and the dogs are a varied lot. The movie is full of jerry-rigged contraptions which allow the dogs to feed, play and poop without needing their human handlers around. Young viewers should love all that — just be ready to explain about shoplifting, car theft and breaking and entering.

Talk to us

More in Life

The 2023 Infiniti QX80 has standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive available on all models. (Infiniti)
2023 Infiniti QX80 is powerful and posh

A mighty V8 engine does the work while a luxurious interior provides the pleasure.

Artist Michelle Downes prepares to work on a few canvases in her garage workspace on Thursday, July 6, 2023, at her family’s home in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Stanwood artist Michelle Downes creates layered dreamscapes in resin

Resin is one part chemistry and one part artistry. Downes combines the two to make art that captures the imagination.

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Most Read