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Movie Review: Vacancies are available at ‘Hotel for Dogs’

Oklahoman Published: January 16, 2009
Child and animal detractor W.C. Fields might have classified "Hotel for Dogs” a horror film, but most adults will find this PG-rated romp from Nickelodeon Movies to be a howling good time for the entire family.

True, it’s an outrageous comedy-adventure full of kids and canines, and its target audience is mainly ’tweens, but there’s something here to satisfy the heart, mind and funnybone of almost every age. I mean, if this were strictly from Mickey Mouseville, would Oscar-nominated Don Cheadle have signed on, or Lisa Kudrow, or Kevin Dillon?

They’re all on the guest list of "Hotel for Dogs,” a clever urban fairy tale from the book by Lois Duncan starring Emma Roberts as Andi and Jake T. Austin as Bruce, two recently orphaned siblings living with self-centered, overly-strict foster parents Lois and Carl Scudder (a hilarious Kudrow-Dillon duo), two ridiculously under-talented musicians who care more about their diehard rock star dreams than the welfare of their neglected young charges. They have a strict no-pet rule, so the kids are constantly finding ways to hide their endlessly hungry Jack Russell terrier, Friday, from both their foster folks and some dedicated dogcatchers.

When they find an abandoned hotel in the neighborhood, it seems ideal for Friday to hole up in, along with a couple of strays that have already taken shelter there. But the dog population begins to rapidly swell within the rundown building as Andi and Jake take it upon themselves to start rescuing every homeless mutt they run across.

With the help of some young friends, inventor Bruce comes up with all manner of makeshift gadgets — including a car window/wind simulator and a giant, fire hydrant shaped urinal — to keep the dogs happy and quiet, while tough and resourceful Andi cons and plots to keep a lid on everything.

"Hotel for Dogs”


3 stars

Starring: Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Simmons, Kyla Pratt, Troy Gentile.

(Brief mild thematic elements, language and some crude humor)


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