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FILM of the week - A MUTT SEE - Doggy treat for kids at half term; HOTEL FOR DOGS U, 100mins Opens Friday, February 13.

Byline: by MARK ADAMS


Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Don Cheadle.


Brother and sister Andi (Roberts) and Bruce (Austin) are orphans stuck with miserable foster-parents who don't let them keep their pet Jack Russell terrier in the apartment.

The pair come across an abandoned hotel and set up a system to keep their pooch there.

Gradually they start adopting scores of stray dogs and set up their Hotel For Dogs - but local authority dog-catchers and the police are hot on their trail.


Hollywood is having a love affair with dog movies this year... animated pooch picture Bolt has just opened, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is still on screens and mutt movie Marley And Me is opening in a few weeks.

Hotel For Dogs is a good-natured addition to the canine cinema club, perfectly timed for half-term.

It is a nice blend of slapstick fun, a little family pathos and a whole bunch of dogs of all shapes and sizes and is likely to be a popular draw for harassed parents looking for a little respite from the youngsters.

Based on Lois Duncan's novel, the film is classic and rather old-fashioned family fun built around good-natured and fresh faced kids and the "aah" value of cute canines.

Of course it's silly and preposterous, but then not every movie can be an Oscar contender.

Emma Roberts (niece of Julia, and star of recent UK-set teen comedy Wild Child) is spot-on as 16-year-old Andi, doing her best to hold things together for her younger brother Bruce (Jake T.


Their hilariously uncaring foster parents (wonderfully played for laughs by Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon) are a pair of wannabe rock'n'rollers who have no interest in the kids and their pet pooch.

So when the pair end up housing their hound in an abandoned old hotel it seems like a perfect plan.

Okay, so three other dogs are already in residence, but there's room to spare and young Bruce is a whiz at coming up with devices to feed, exercise and entertain the animals.

Pretty soon virtually every stray hound in the city has taken up residence and it becomes almost a full-time job for the kids - with a little help from some young pet shop workers - to keep the canine clientele in check.

And yes, the delicate issue of doggy do-do is dealt with in an amusing way - toilet-training for the dogs and even a sanitary disposal system... very clever these Hollywood hounds.

Naturally enough things wrap up with a little bit of action as cops and dogcatchers track the kids and canines back to the hotel, but it all ends up satisfactorily and there is lots of smiling all round.

Even the strange casting of super-cool Don Cheadle as the good-guy child services employee works.

Plus the film reinforces Emma Roberts' reputation as a real star for the future.


Touch of class... Don Cheadle is the good guy once again; Follow my lead... Emma Roberts as Andi and Jake T. Austin as Bruce
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 8, 2009
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