Making the Grades
Check your sense of reality along with your luggage when you register at the Hotel for Dogs. This is pure popcorn fluff, filled with idealistic intentions and a pack of well-trained canine actors.
After losing their parents, Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T. Austin) know all about the importance of sticking together. Bernie (Don Cheadle), their social worker, is doing his best to find a good home for his two wards. But when police nab the pair for defrauding a pawnshop, Bernie’s options for keeping the siblings together narrow considerably. Andi, however, is determined to take care of her little brother and their dog Friday, who they keep hidden from their foster parents, Lois and Carl Scudder (Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon).
Still, the job of keeping Friday under wraps is getting harder. Then the two adolescents discover an old, condemned hotel already inhabited by a couple of stray pooches. After deciding it is a perfect place to park Friday, Andi hounds around for supplies for the abandoned animals. Meanwhile Bruce uses his engineering talents to create all kinds of pet-friendly gadgets to entertain the mutts and keep them quiet during the day.
Yet, like so many well-intentioned plans, their desire to watch out for the underdog soon balloons out of control. With the help of three new pals, Dave (Johnny Simmons), Heather (Kyla Pratt) and Mark (Troy Gentile), the two kids are soon rounding up strays from off the streets, springing captives from the dog catcher’s truck and rescuing mutts on death row.
However, when Andi is caught lying to her new friends about her past and Bruce is cornered with items he has stolen from Mr. and Mrs. Scrudder, the whole rescue mission comes crashing down and Andi’s hopes for a new family vanish.
Unfortunately the film won’t do anything to dispel the negative stereotypes of foster parents or dogcatchers. Lois and Carl are depicted as rock star wannabes who lock up the food and serve slop to their charges. Animal Control Officers Jake (Ajay Naidu) and Max (Eric Edelstein) are equally incompetent and nasty. Luckily, Bernie’s efforts as a hardworking child advocate are applauded even as Andi and Bruce cause plenty of headaches for the agency.
In the end, the siblings’ efforts to establish a family where no one is turned away creates the expected feel-happy ending, with only a few concerns for parents. These include infrequent moments of peril, a handful of profanities and brief crude humor.
So if you can suspend the need for sound business strategies, excuse these troublesome teens and buy into this fantasy “tail”, Hotel for Dogs might be just the kind of puppy love families can enjoy.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Hotel For Dogs.
Why are Andi and Bruce so intent on keeping Friday? How do they define family?
Although some of their actions are illegal or dangerous, what are the intentions behind Andi and Bruce’s activities? Does that excuse their behaviors?
While Lois and Carl are portrayed in a negative light, there are thousands of good foster and adoptive parents who provide homes for children in need. Check with your local agencies for more information on adopting or fostering.