Hotel For Dogs

by Phil Hall

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday April 28, 2009

Hotel For Dogs

Hotel for Dogs is the first theatrical feature film from the Nickelodeon cable television network's partnership with DreamWorks, and it bears the thumb prints of a typical Nickelodeon offering: an excess of clumsy, low-grade slapstick perpetrated by too-sassy kids who are always getting the best of too-dumb adults. Those with youngsters will know the routine, while those without children may want to check into something a little more challenging.

This adaptation of the 1971 Lois Duncan novel finds a pair of photogenic orphaned siblings (Jake T. Austin and Emma Roberts) trying to hide their beloved pooch Friday from the skein of foster parents who provide the kids with temporary shelter. The siblings decide to take over an abandoned hotel property, where they can shelter Friday and other stray dogs. Other kids join their efforts, and soon the tykes have created the eponymous establishment where the once-neglected canines are treated like salon patrons. Of course, their scheme gets discovered and all sorts of mild chaos ensue - but there is the inevitable happy ending for adults, children and dogs.

Undemanding tykes will gets their giggles flowing with the Rube Goldberg-style contraptions invented for the dogs, and the film's mild conflicts will create enough small-scale gaps without creating any serious nightmares for the Nickelodeon addicts. Grown-ups may enjoy a few cynical giggles in viewing how the likes of Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon and Don Cheadle are slumming their way through this disposable flick. For Cheadle, though, this film might be fairly grave writing on his career wall - who could have imagined that in four years he would go from Oscar-nominated glory in "Hotel Rwanda" to playing straight man to laugh-baiting mutts in "Hotel for Dogs"?

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time