Poor Don Cheadle. After being one of the more underrated actors of the last decade, playing second fiddle to George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the Oceans franchise, hes stuck in throwaways roles behind Emma Roberts in Hotel for Dogs. Kind of a shame for a guy who starred in one of 2008s top films in Traitor now to be in a generic family film in Hotel for Dogs.
Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T. Austin) are foster kids with wannabe rockstar foster parents (Kevin Dillon and Lisa Kudrow) in a less than ideal situation. While trying to save their dog, they become oblivious to the plight of many homeless dogs. So they do what any sane, rational teenager/pre-teen combination would do: open up their own shelter on condemned property for animals featuring gadgets.
From Dreamworks and Nickelodeon, this is completely and squarely in the realm of childrens cinema, mainly as a vehicle for its star Emma Roberts. The niece of Julia Roberts, and daughter of direct-to-video superstar Eric Roberts, Emma certainly has the Hollywood pedigree and the presence her famous aunt has but not quite the knack for picking roles. Emma is still young and displays the same screen presence she had in Nancy Drew but this is almost a step back for her as its not nearly as good a vehicle for her.
Hotel for Dogs is another in a long line of films aimed at the younger members of a family and as such can only be recommended for them.
Presented in a Dolby Digital format, with a widescreen presentation, the film looks and sounds wonderful. For a film thats quite awful for anyone over the age of 5, it looks and sounds world class. This is a film with plenty of colors and music to it and the transfer is near flawless.
The DVD box does come with a Squeaky Dog Toy for dogs to play with (and eventually destroy).
The typical Deleted Scenes and Photo Galleries are included.
The Pedigree Adoption Drive is a PSA about adopting dogs from shelters, et al.
K-9 Casting is a fluff piece about the dogs of the film.
Bark on Cue is another fluff piece about getting the dogs to act on cue in the film.
A Home for Everyone: The Making of Hotel for Dogs is your standard EPK piece about making the film.
Thats the coolest thing Ive ever seen is a look at the mechanics and effects of the film. Its rather interesting to see how they created everything for both its use in the film as well as to make sure it would be sure to look like something a kid could make from the flotsam and jetsam of stuff hes provided with given the situation.
Theres also a Commentary Track featuring Roberts and Austin and Previews for Imagine That with Eddie Murphy, the DVD release of Madagascar 2, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlottes Web and The Barnyard.
If you have kids under the age of 12, this is about as good a family film as you can get. The problem is that its designed for the children and not for anyone above them, leaving it in the same category as G-rated schlock that populates the genre.
Nickelodeon Movies presents Hotel for Dogs. Directed by Thor Freudenthal. Starring Don Cheadle, Emma Roberts, Jake Austin. Written by Jeff Lowell, Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle based off a novel by Lois Duncan. Running time: 100 minutes . Rated PG . Released on DVD April 28th, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Don Cheadle, Emma Roberts, Kevin Dillon