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Movie Review

Hotel for Dogs a.k.a. “Das Hundehotel,” “Hotel Bau,” “Um Hotel Bom Pra Cachorro,” “Hotel za pse,” “Koirahotelli”

MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild thematic elements, language and some crude humor.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Comedy, Family
1 hr. 20 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 16, 2009 (wide—3,000 theaters)
Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

Dogs in the Bible


Adoption in the Bible



God’s Law

About the Ten Commandments of the Bible

What does God expect of you?

Have you kept each of the Ten Commandments? Are you good enough to go to Heaven?

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Emma Roberts, Don Cheadle, Jake T. Austin, Johnny Simmons, Kyla Pratt, Troy Gentile, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon, Ajay Naidu, Eric Edelstein, Robinne Lee, Yvette Nicole Brown, Andre Ware, Jonathan Klein, Ruben Garfias, Kenny Vibert, Stephen Liska, Jeremy Howard, Tiya Sircar, Mariah Moore, Jim Doughan, Gina St. John, Catherine Hill McCord, Carina Oakland, Dwayne Swingler, Gregory Sporleder, Brendan Wayne, Andrea Gold
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Producer: Cold Spring Pictures, Donners' Company, DreamWorks SKG, The Montecito Picture Company, Nickelodeon Movies, Jason Clark, Jonathan Gordon, Marc Haimes, Ewan Leslie, Ivan Reitman, Lauren Shuler Donner
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“No stray gets turned away”

“Hotel for Dogs” is what happens when 2 foster kids secretly adopt a pack of dogs. Andi and Bruce are foster children living with the “typical” mean-spirited foster parents, Carl and Lois Scudder. Carl and Lois are wannabe rock stars who lock the pantry, serve horrible looking food, and never have a kind word for the kids in their care. Sixteen year old Andi (Emma Roberts) feels responsible for taking care of her younger brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) after their parents are both killed. They have been able to secretly keep their dog, Friday, even though they have had to move to 5 foster homes in less than 3 years.

Their only hope is their kind social worker, Bernie (Don Cheadle) who fights for “just one more chance” for these kids in an attempt to keep them together. The reason Bernie has to keep going to bat for Andi and Bruce is because they are not only secretly keeping Friday, but they begin a “Hotel for Dogs” for all stray dogs. They get help from Heather (Kyla Pratt) and Dave (Johnny Simmons), 2 teenage employees at a local pet store. The pack of friends even go as far as breaking dogs out of the pound to prevent them from being destroyed. Bruce is very technical and invents all kinds of contraptions to keep the dogs fed, watered, exercised and pampered.

Bernie is such a caring and kind social worker. He seems to genuinely care about his job and particularly these kids. He is shown at home discussing Andi and Bruce with his wife. He works very hard trying to get them a permanent home in which they can stay together. Andi and Bruce care more about the dogs and helping them, then they do about even staying together. They consider family more than just themselves. Their dog Friday is very important to them, and they won’t consider leaving him behind.

Negative content includes plenty of lying and stealing throughout the whole movie. The first scene of the movie shows Bruce shrink wrapping a stone in an electronic box. Andi takes the box into a pawn shop and gets money for it. When confronted by a police officer, Andi lies and tries to say that the man they ripped off has been stalking her. They are caught and taken to the police station, where Bruce comes and gets them out of trouble. The brother and sister hide Friday from their foster parents. They steal food and equipment around the house to operate the doggy hotel. Andi lies about her parents and where she lives, and, when confronted, tells even more lies.

There is also minor violence. A dogcatcher gets kicked in the groin. A dog is shown growling and barking, which causes one of the dogcatchers to lock himself in a cage. Minor comedic violence is shown when the feeding contraption goes haywire and chaos ensues with the dogs. A dog is led out the back door at the pound, and the dogcatcher returns alone—implying the dog has been euthanized. The kids break all the dogs out of the pound on 2 separate occasions.

Two dogs, Romeo and Juliet, are shown chasing after each other and licking each other’s faces. Andi and Dave share a brief kiss. A boy makes suggestive comments to Heather.

Minor language includes “poop,” “crap,” and other similar potty humor, and some minor expletives.

The parallel between foster care for the kids and the pound for the dogs is clearly seen throughout the movie. This film promotes not just adoption of dogs, but also adoption of children. The movie does this while pulling at your heartstrings and I found myself crying at the moments that the filmmakers wanted me to. However, I also found myself wondering what other effects this movie will have on the kids who will see it.

Is it ever okay to break into a building, steal, lie and cheat because you are trying to save the world? The things this movie promotes, God calls sin. And, while it is important for kids to understand that we should be passionate about charitable works and helping others, I cannot promote lying and stealing. The ends do not justify the means. This movie had an underlying message of “do whatever it takes to promote the things that are important to you.”

This film is cute, and my 6 year old son really liked it. Most of the kids in the audience seemed entertained. However, I did have a talk with my son about lying and stealing. We also talked about right and wrong. This can be a springboard to discuss what causes they feel passionate about, and then you can help them promote a cause without committing crimes and sinning.

I would recommend this movie to children about 6 and up. This is the age that I think you can begin to explain what the movie was trying to accomplish, and how God views the methods used.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—The movie was a good one, I didn’t catch too much wrong with it. It is cleaner then what my little sister watches on TV, and I throw a stink if she is watching anything too bad. Yes, the kids were lying and stealing, but I think it is a good thing to talk about with kids and relate it to the 10 commandments. Though it needs to be explained that it wasn’t good that they got away with what they did, and that they should have been punished a bit more.

It needs to be noted that the kids did a wonderful thing in the end of protecting their dogs; it is something that is very real and big now. My family owns a rescue dog that if she hadn’t been brought north in a shelter transfer, she would have been put to sleep. The movie gives hope for all that they have a chance in the world.

On the way home from the theater we passed an abandoned Inn and were joking about turning that into a Hotel for Dogs, and we were coming up with some very exciting ideas.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Anya, age 21 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie with a friend, and we both loved it. There were maybe three times a character said, “Oh my g_d,” but that was the only profanity in the whole movie. A slight bit of the humor was kind of off-color, but very little, and it was all in reference to the dogs—not the people. Andi and Bruce totally carry the story; it’s really not about the dogs at all. Yeah, the two of them make a lot of poor choices; but, if you’re looking at them as modern kids we encounter every day—who are in a bad situation with few if any people to love and support them—and who don’t know Jesus—I think they’re doing really well. I, personally, know what desperation feels like and how hard it is not to break some rules to scrape together a little bit of comfort when you’re that sad and alone.

The romance was just right—not overdone, totally clean, nothing questionable at all. The rock n roll foster mom’s clothes were far from wholesome, but she was definitely a negative figure anyway, and even though her pants/skirts were often too tight and too short, they didn’t actually show anything. The acting was fantastic, especially the little brother’s and the social worker’s.

The movie had a near-perfect ending. The whole thing seemed very real, in spite of being technically unrealistic. The brother and sister’s predicament is heart-wrenching, but if you don’t mind a little emotional intensity, I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants a clean, wholesome film that’s primarily light-hearted but gives some really good food for thought if you’re willing to chew.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jessica, age 21 (USA)
Positive—We did not take children. My husband and I really enjoyed the movie. Sure it was unbelievable—how the kids fixed up the hotel, but the message was good. It was also funny and heartwarming.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sandy, age 54 (USA)
Positive—I had read some negative comments on here and had to practically drag my fourteen year old daughter to se it (she thought it would be boring). My 75 year old mother also came and we all loved it! How can you go wrong with lots of cute pups and foster kids?

Yes, the kids did lie/steal, but that was not what you walked away thinking about… rather how special each pup and person is and that each should be treated as an individual, not lumped together as “pound dogs” or “foster kids.” Parts of it were funny, and one part brought tears to my eyes. This is a film we would enjoy seeing again!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Deanne Rogan, age 49 (USA)
Positive—This movie was humorous, although so incapable of being true. Too many silly ideas that couldn’t be true. Though it was mildly entertaining, it had some crude humor, also. I love dogs, but I wouldn’t watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Sylvia, age 26 (USA)


Negative—While I thought the film displayed “better than average” values, in considering the array of movies available, this was one movie I wished I had passed by. Both my teenage daughter (14) and I were bored to tears, asking each other if we wanted to leave (beginning halfway through the movie). As an example, the way the “hotel” was transformed, then used, was anything but believable. If this is the best that can come from the big screen, board games at home look more and more appealing throughout the remaining winter months. I would only recommend this movie to families with children from age 11 and below. Otherwise, use your money to purchase Yahtzee.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Robert Cucci, age 56 (USA)
Negative—I took my two daughters to see this film and wish I had saved the money. My oldest is 5, and I am thankful that most of the offensive material flew over her head, but we did have a talk about what was not okay with this movie.

This movie seems to be targeted towards young children, but the material is more suited for older teenagers, who I think would want nothing to do with this film.

…The characters lie, cheat, steal at all times to get what they want. In one scene, the teenage foster girl bribes the Humane Society worker! It doesn’t matter if they are supposedly doing this for a good cause—their actions are not ok! And, they are never held responsible, or get into trouble for what they do.

And as far as the violence, the worst of it was only briefly mentioned here—when the dog pound worker gets kicked in the groin. Well, he wasn’t just kicked, one of the teenage boy characters snuck up behind him while he had his legs spread wide open, and kicked the man as hard as he could, right in between his legs. It was awful and made me squirm in my seat. Something like that would put a person in the hospital in real life, and here we have it played for laughs in a children’s movie!

Even when not looking at it from a Christian viewpoint, the plot was very weak—it is the type of movie that you can tell what will happen in the first five minutes (i.e., who the kids end up with at the end). The acting was bad and the movie was completely predictable.

This movie is completely inappropriate for younger children, and I think teenagers would be completely bored. I wish someone had told me to avoid it! Save your money and save yourself the trouble of trying to undo what this movie teaches to your kids!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Tonia, age 39 (USA)
Negative—I didn’t agree with all the lying and stealing in the movie. Also—the hypocrisy about saving dogs and yet promoting a doggie “nursery” at the end—will only add to the pet population problems. Bad message for children—that dogs are just toys or possessions. More breeding of dogs is what will result from this movie—which is a direct connection to greed!!! Wanting more and more—whether it be money or dogs—or money for more dogs—is greed—one of the 7 deadly sins!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Anita, age 44 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I really liked this movie, Although there was parts when the kids stole things, they also showed the consequences. I recommend this movie to kids, teens, preschoolers, and adults of all ages!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Liliana, age 11 (Canada)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie very much! It was very funny, and I loved the story! The kids did lie/steal, but they did face the consequences. There was a kiss, and they used the Lord’s name in vain several times.

The dogs were adorable and the kids all did a good acting job. overall a pretty good movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jessica, age 14 (USA)
Neutral—Although I overall liked this movie, I probaby will not be buying it because of gross potty humor that made me gag several times.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Katie, age 17 (USA)