PetStyle Movie Review: Hotel for Dogs

By Kathleen Roberts

Hotel for Dogs is a wonderful story for the whole family based on the book of the same name by Lois Duncan.  Many of the dogs used in this movie were rescues adopted 16 weeks before production began and trained by trainer and Hotel for Dogs Animal Coordinator Mark Forbes.  About 70 dogs total were used in this movie, including stand-ins. 

Happily, many of them found loving new homes between pre-production and filming.  That is a fact that makes an awesome movie even more appealing.  Need a little more motivation?  How about this?  When you purchase your ticket to Hotel for Dogs, Pedigree brand dog food makes a donation to help shelter dogs all over the country, up to $250,000.  So what are you waiting for?  This movie is a must-see, for more than one reason.

Eleven-year-old Bruce and his 16-year-old sister Andi lost their parents three years ago.  Since then, they have been bouncing from foster home to foster home, all the while hiding their beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Friday.  In order to care for Friday in their current no-dogs-allowed foster home, the siblings go to great lengths to keep Friday fed; not an easy task with a food-obsessed chow-hound who can sniff out a hot dog at 200 yards .  And not all their efforts are appreciated by the law.

After getting caught passing off a rock in a box as a new cell phone in order to get money at a pawn shop, their kind-hearted social worker, Bernie, warns them that they can't mess up again.  If they get kicked out by current foster parents, wanna-be rockers Carl and Lois Scudder, they may be forced to live in separate homes.

Determined to stay out of trouble, they panic when when they are found to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up running from the police, yet again.  Looking for a hiding place down an alley, Friday suddenly ducks into an old, abandoned hotel.  The kids follow nervously and discover that the hotel has two other residents, Lenny the Bull Mastiff and Georgia the Boston Terrier.  They agree that this is a great place for Friday to safely spend the night.

The next day they meet Dave and Heather, two kids Andi's age who work at the local pet store.  When Andi makes up a story about her great parents who like to rescue dogs, Dave decides that she is the perfect person to take on three more dogs who have so far been unadoptable.  Andi agrees after Dave offers to purchase the dog food they need with his employee discount.  Later, the kids meet Mark and together they embark on journey to save all the city's strays, a total of 24 dogs including their own dog Friday, and provide them with a home in the hotel.

Cleaning up the old hotel while Bruce comes up with amazing inventions to help in the monumental task of caring for all those dogs draws them all close.  At the long dinning table, shared by dogs and kids together, Bruce toasts to their "family"; something he hasn't been able to do for a long time.  Things seem to be going well until the 24/7 dog feeder malfunctions, causing doggie-chaos.  Then the Scudders find some of their missing items in Bruce's backpack while Andi is at a party with Dave and Heather.  

It looks like the end when the police are called in, taking all the dogs, Friday included, to the pound and Andi and Bruce are taken to separate group homes.  Will the kids be reunited? Will Bernie be able to help them out of trouble again?  Will they get Friday back before he is euthanized?  What about the other dogs?  You'll have to see the movie to find out for yourself.  Be sure to bring a few tissues because, while there are many humorous scenes, there are a few  scenes that will make you cry as well.  The theme of this story is "family"; it may not be everyone's ideal mental image, but family is still family as long as there is love.

And sometimes, all you need is love.

To get your copy of the book, click here.