If you like animals, Hotel For Dogs from Dreamworks and Nickelodeon – in conjunction with Cold Spring Pictures, Donners Company, and Montecito Picture Company Production - is a must see. Executive produced by Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollack and Jeffrey Clifford, the movie is based on a book by Lois Duncan.
Orphans Andi ( Emma Roberts) and her younger brother Bruce ( Jake T Austin) must suffer through with their foster parents would be singers Lois ( Lisa Kudrow) and Carl Scudder ( Kevin Dillion.) Their only joy is Friday, a Jack Russell Terrier whom they had rescued years before and kept hidden from their foster parents.
As much an adventure as it is a comedy, the children, in trouble with the law for nefarious schemes to keep their dog in food, are forced to rescue him from the shelter.
Seeing the police again, the kids know they have to escape and follow their dog into an abandoned hotel.
Here they find two other dogs – Georgia and Linney. The later, we learn, gets upset if he can’t see outside. Andi is in a quandary because they’ve been having trouble with one dog, how will they handle three. She decides to go to the local pet food store where she meets Dave ( Jimmy Simons) who agrees to help her with the food bill if she will take in three more strays. Heather ( Kyla Pratt) follows them to the hotel and the kids are joined by a local teen, Mark ( Troy Gentile.)
Reluctantly, Andi agrees and soon it’s decided that if they can save one stray from the pound, they can save more. The kids go on a mission to find all the strays they can and find they are developing their own family with the dogs.
Meanwhile Bernie ( Don Cheadle) their social worker, has found a good home for them with great foster parents. He knows how much they want to leave the Scudders. To his surprise the kids say no. They have to be near their dogs.
Unfortunately, its hard to keep the guys quiet and soon the neighbors are complaining about barking from the old hotel. Andi meanwhile has gone on her first date with Dave, leaving young Bruce to mind the hotel.
When the police come, Andi and Bruce are arrested after the Scudders realize the kids have taken some of their household items to make the automatic feeder and other creative machines designed by the young genius Bruce. The creations include a Disney style automobile ride, toilets and automatic poop cleaners, as well as other inventions.
Separated into the county homes, Andi and Bruce are both miserable until Friday, escaping from the pound, finds Dave. The pair of them get Andi and then Bruce.
Knowing that their dogs have less than one day to live before animal control kills them, the kids plan a dog heist, breaking into the shelter and freeing all their furry friends. The plan is to get them over the river to a no kill shelter but the dogs have other ideas. The hotel is the only home some of the dogs have known and that is where they head.
The local populace is up in arms until Bernie points out to everyone how the kids have created their own family and how much each of the dogs means to them.
The community gets together and helps revitalize the old hotel and really make it a hotel for the dogs and the children find a permanent home with Bernie and his wife. We learn that your family is where you find it and that by gathering those close to you, you can make your own family.
My only negative comment about this wonderful film is that it made animal control totally bad and knowing some people who work in the field, I know that many of them truly love the animals and do their best to take care of them.
Making his debut as a director, Thor Freduental did a marvelous job – letting us see things from the dog’s perspective – as he adapted the script written by Jeff Lowell, Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle. Attention to details brings the story above the average family fare. The producers on the film were Lauren Shuler Donner, Jonathan Gordon, Ewan Leslie and Jason Clark. Head of photography is Michael Grady and production design by William Sandell; editing by Sheldon Kahn. Beth Pasternak did the costumes while John Debney did the music.
Those who are wondering, the film was monitored by the American Humane Association to make sure that no animals were harmed. Mark Forbes, the animal coordinator from Birds and Animals Unlimited, made sure of that. The message at the end is – Help shelter dogs find a decent home. Everyone wants a family.
The film is rated PG for mild thematic elements, language and some crude humor.
The film opens next week. Go to www.hotelfordogsmovie.com for more information.