Story

Based on a novel by Lois Duncan, Hotel for Dogs is the story of two orphaned siblings, Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T Austin). Andi and Bruce have great difficulty finding foster parents who are willing to look after them both. Their current foster parents, the fifth set in three years, are self-absorbed, would-be rock stars, Lois (Lisa Kudrow) and Carl (Kevin Dillon). Lois and Karl have taken in Andi and Bruce only because of the income paid to foster parents.

Andi and Bruce often find themselves in trouble with the law as they think of devious ways to make money. They have a very caring social worker, Bernie (Don Cheadle), who always bails them out of trouble. They also have adopted a dog, Friday, which isn’t allowed to live with them, but they manage to keep his existence a secret.

On one occasion, while trying to run from the police, Andi and Bruce follow Friday into a condemned building. Here they are surprised to find two more abandoned dogs. They decide to clean the place up and look after all three dogs. Andi is then persuaded by Dave (Johnny Simmons), who works at the local pet shop, to take three more dogs because he can’t keep them at the shop anymore. One thing leads to another. Before long, there are lots of dogs living there, causing mayhem and mess. The ingenious Bruce, however, makes clever gadgets that help with feeding, cleaning, exercising and entertaining the dogs. Things go wrong when the local dogcatchers discover where all their dogs have gone.

Themes

Loss of parents; foster homes; animal distress; children breaking the law

Violence

There is some violence in this movie. For example:

  • Andi and Bruce witness a bank robbery and are chased by the police.
  • Dave gets knocked out by one of Bruce’s gadgets.
  • Carl grabs Bruce by the shoulder and threatens him.
  • A large dog growls fiercely at a smaller dog and chases it through the building.
  • The large dog attacks a dog catcher.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five. For example:

  • The dogcatchers are large and intimidating men.
  • The condemned building is quite scary – there is furniture covered in dust sheets, lightning and thunder cracks, and eerie music.
  • The large dog is quite fierce.

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • The children sell a fake item to a pawnbroker for money.
  • Bruce is arrested by the police.
  • Friday is picked up by the dogcatchers.
  • The dogs in the pound will be put down if not collected.
  • The children steal items from their foster parents’ home.

Over 8

It is unlikely that children over eight would be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

Pedigree dog food is displayed and used in this movie.

Coarse language

There is some very mild coarse language in this movie.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Hotel for Dogs is a family comedy. It is quite entertaining, although highly improbable.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • care and concern for animals
  • care and concern for others
  • collaboration and working as a team.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children certain attitudes, behaviours and their real-life consequences. For example:

  • There are better solutions to problems than lying and stealing.
  • Breaking the law and rebelling against authority will often land you in trouble.