Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
|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|
|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|
“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.