Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Hotel for Dogs

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Emma Roberts as Andi
Jake T. Austin as Bruce
Don Cheadle as Bernie
Johnny Simmons as Dave
Kyla Pratt as Heather
Troy Gentile as Mark
Lisa Kudrow as Lois Scudder
Kevin Dillon as Carl Scudder
Ajay Naidu as ACO Jake
Eric Edelstein as ACO Max
Robinne Lee as Carol
Yvette Nicole Brown as Ms. Camwell
Andre Ware as Officer Jeff
Jonathan Klein as Evan
Ruben Garfias as Department Store Employee

Special Features:
Gadgets, Gizmos & Cool Contraptions
K-9 Casting
Bark On Cue!
A Home For Everyone: The Making Of Hotel For Dogs
Howl-arious Deleted Scenes
Cast And Crew Commentary Featuring Emma Roberts And Jake T. Austin
And More!

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 100 Minutes

The Movie:
The following is the official description of the film:

"When Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T. Austin) need somewhere to hide their dog. Friday, they transform an abandoned hotel into a place where no stray gets turned away. Loaded with adorable dogs, a team of clever kids and ingenious gadgets, this heartwarming adventure will leave you wondering - who let the dogs in? "

"Hotel for Dogs" is rated PG for brief mild thematic elements, language and some crude humor.

Mini-Review:
"Hotel for Dogs" has a great concept. The idea of a group of kids secretly taking care of a group of strays is sure fire kiddie entertainment. Throw in a bunch of contraptions used for dog care and you can see the appeal to children. Unfortunately, the final product is only fun for kids. Adults will find themselves checking their watches pretty quickly.

"Hotel for Dogs" is just dull. The main entertainment in the film is seeing the dogs get taken care of with the gadgets, and that's only a small portion of the movie (not to mention almost all of it was shown in the trailers). It takes a while to get there. The story is full of a lot of kid's movie clichés, too. You have stupid adults, smart animals, an evil stepmother/foster parent, tear jerking moments where the kids are victims of unsympathetic government social workers, etc etc etc. It has all been done before. The one time the film starts to get entertaining is when Lois and Carl enter the hotel, encounter the contraptions, and then think the hotel is haunted. They could have used a bit more of that.

On the positive side, "Hotel for Dogs" has some pretty good casting. Who would have thought they'd get Don Cheadle? (Someone must have called in a favor.) Lisa Kudrow is OK as the villainess Lois Scudder. I kept expecting her to sing "Smelly Cat." I've always been impressed with Emma Roberts. I look forward to seeing her get some better scripts to work with.

So to wrap things up, "Hotel for Dogs" is fun for kids, not that much for adults. If you need to entertain kids it will fit the bill.

The bonus features have the typical stuff - a commentary, making of featurettes, photo galleries, etc. Most notable among them are a featurette on the gadgets shown in the film and the training of the dogs. It's interesting to see the amount of work that went into things that were only shown for a few seconds on the screen. I was also impressed with how they didn't record any sound for the dog scenes - the trainers were making too much noise to record at the time of shooting.

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