To hear the review
To hear the review
There is virtually nothing in Hotel For Dogs we haven’t seen, many times, in many other films. There are two kids, see, and they are in foster care with horrible foster parents see, and they engage in criminal activity that is supposed to be charming and funny. They commit theft and fraud, but we are supposed to see this as them being rebellious rascals, charming rogues, and so forth. Why they have to be presented as criminals when the movie begins, I have no idea. It doesn’t help the story in any way, it doesn’t set up the characters in any way. I think it’s supposed to be funny for kids, and not stupid. But it fails.
From there, the movie gets slightly better, but not much. Unlike WALL-E, Kung Fu Panda, and so many other terrific kids movies lately, Hotel For Dogs is not a movie adults can enjoy at all. It is made entirely for kids, with the mentality of an eight-year-old. And frankly, movies made from that perspective are enjoyed by kids far less than those with a more adult sense of humour and a more sophisticated intelligence. My stepkids found Hotel For Dogs funny at moments, but for the most part they were pretty bored.
Movies made exclusively for kids, without thinking beyond what kids are SUPPOSED to like, feature foster parents. And charmingly roguish children. And cute dogs. And one friendly adult who may be able to help the kids. And people falling down, getting hit in the face with food, and dogs stealing food. So really, all you have to get to make a kids’ movie is a bunch of food and a bunch of dogs. Well, Hotel For Dogs, you can check all those things off your list. You have made a movie for children, mission accomplished! It’s a movie for silly, we’ll-watch-anything children, but it’s a movie for children nonetheless.
The basic premise is that these two kids (Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin), in foster care with their loser wannabe-in-a-band foster parents (Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon). They commit crimes and get turned over to the Only Nice Adult, their social worker Bernie (Don Cheadle). He brings them back to the awful foster parents, who are cartoons serving the kids gruel. The kids have a dog hiding outside – their family pet, who has apparently been with them, in secret, for many many years. Oh right – having seen dozens of movies exactly like this one, you have probably already guessed – the youngest kid is a mechanical genius who builds devices so the dog can get himself around and eat.
Soon, the kids have to hide their dog again, and they find an abandoned hotel where two other dogs already live. One is huge, one is tiny. Get it? Hilarious juxtaposition and so forth…anyway. The kids soon convert this hotel into a safe haven for stray dogs, who are running away all the time from the dog-catchers, who are evil, as every dog-catcher in every kids movie always is. Soon, this hotel is absolutely crammed with dogs – many of which are CUTE – and totally unnecessary, overly ludicrous and utterly silly gadgets that have been built by the Genius Kid. Then the dogcatchers find out about it, and come after them…blah blah blah.
All of this could be palatable – there are cute dogs and flashy gadgets a la Home Alone, and the kids are likeable enough and the adults aren’t around enough to be truly irritating. But the movie ends with one of the most sappy, obvious, stupid and, frankly, nonsensical endings I have seen in a while. It’s utter nonsense. I wasn’t expecting a Deer Hunter style ending here. The movie hadn’t been good up until this point, so I figured it would just have a regular, bad ending. But something about it made me so annoyed that my rating for Hotel For Dogs immediately dropped one star.
This movie is bad. Don’t subject your kids to it. Even they will find it passable at best. Hotel For Dogs comes out April 28th from Paramount Home Entertainment.