Movie Review: Hotel for Dogs (2009)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2009 family movie starring Emma Roberts and Lisa Kudrow.

Synopsis: A pair of orphaned siblings have been hiding a pet dog, Friday, for three years as they move from foster home to foster home. When Friday befriends some dogs in an abandoned hotel, the siblings, along with the help of some new friends, decide to turn the building into a sanctuary for strays. Their efforts are not without risk. If they are caught, the dogs will be taken to a kill shelter and they will likely be sent to separate foster homes.

Who's In It?


My oldest daughter brought this one home from the library because they apparently watched it at school and she wanted to watch it with us. I'm actually not much of a family movie person and was very reluctant to watch this film as a result. But, it did turn out to be better than expected.

I'll start out by saying, like most family films, the plot of this movie was a bit predictable. The second the major characters were introduced, it wasn't too difficult to figure out what would happen to the two siblings (Roberts and Austin) and the dogs they rescued.

That being said, the film does have quite a few funny moments in it, including the way the kids created various automatic items that did everything from cleaning up the dogs' poop to making sure they got plenty of exercise. While these efforts, again, reminded me of a dozen other family movies, they were still clever enough gags to generate a chuckle.

I think the thing that really helped this film was the supporting cast. In particular, I liked the kids' foster parents (Kudrow and Kevin Dillon), who were both mean enough to dislike them yet, at the same time, managed to be funny when the situation called for it. The fact they were both wannabe rock stars only made their characters more enjoyable, especially toward the end of the film, when they get what they deserve.

Probably the only thing I wasn't a fan of when it came to this movie is it drops the ball when it comes to telling the viewer about the hotel. At various times, lights come on mysteriously then shut back off. Plus, the kids happen to have almost everything they need to provide comfort to the dogs. Not to mention the hotel itself seems to be in great shape for a building that is supposedly abandoned and condemned. But, the film never really takes the time to give any detailed explanation about the hotel or its history and seems to be missing a big piece as a result.

Final Opinion

As I said, it's as predictable as most family movies and could use a little more detail about the hotel's history. However, the movie did prove to be worth watching and I did find I enjoyed it. Just don't tell my daughter because I really don't want to make movies like this a regular thing.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/07/2016, StevenHelmer
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