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The Essential Guide to Bristol
15 February 2009
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Hotel For Dogs (U)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/02/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Whilst not as funny as it could have been, Hotel For Dogs gets by on sheer charm, thanks to a likeable cast, a decent script, pacey direction and a high cuteness factor.

What's it all about?
Directed by Thor Freudenthal, Hotel for Dogs stars Emma Roberts and Jake T Austin as feisty orphans Andi (16) and Bruce (11). Frustrated with their wannabe rock-star foster parents (Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon), they keep getting into trouble, in the hopes that their kindly social worker (Don Cheadle) will find them somewhere else to live.

On top of that, the kids have their hands full trying to hide their scraggly mutt Friday from everyone. However, when Friday leads them to an abandoned hotel, they hit upon an idea and soon they're rounding up every stray dog in the area and housing them at the hotel, aided by a small group of neighbourhood friends (Johnny Simmons, Kyla Pratt and Troy Gentile).

The Good
Roberts and Austin make an extremely likeable duo and there's strong support from Cheadle, Gentile, Kudrow and an under-used (but very funny) Dillon. Similarly, Freudenthal keeps things interesting by having Bruce continually inventing Wallace-and-Gromit-style machines for the hotel that help the dogs eat, exercise and use the toilet.

If they gave out Oscars for dog-wrangling, then Hotel for Dogs would win paws-down, because the most impressive thing about the film is how they got so many dogs to behave on camera simultaneously without total chaos ensuing. Indeed, if there's any CGI in the film, you don't notice it at all.

The Bad
Thankfully, the film keeps the dog poop jokes to a minimum, though it's also never quite as funny as it could have been, opting for cuteness overload rather than a steady stream of gags. In addition, the script may be full of cliches, but at least it knows what to do with them, resulting in a tearful moment or two towards the end.

Worth seeing?
Hotel for Dogs is a likeable family adventure that won't disappoint its target audience of kids and dog-lovers.

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