Movie review: “Hotel for Dogs”


Photo from McClatchy Tribune

I took my son Damien to see “Hotel for Dogs” the first night it came out. He had been asking me to take him since he first saw the preview on TV about three weeks prior to the film’s release.

Anyone who has children, especially a 5-year-old, knows what it is like to be constantly reminded of an upcoming film and repeatedly asked to see it, even after saying yes several times.

The night we planned to go see the movie finally came, and I am convinced the theater sells discounted tickets for children because they know the kids will ask to go more than once, usually while walking out of the theater. Damien saw the movie with me on a Friday and got his aunt to take him again that Sunday.

The movie was unbelievably cute, but unbelievable in the sense that I could not rationalize a bit of it. Damien thought it was the cat’s meow — or should I say, “the dog’s bark”? His favorite part included the words “deep doo-doo.”

“Hotel for Dogs” is a family movie. It brings to light several tough subjects, notably death and abandonment, and wraps it all up with a “happy ending.”

The main characters, brother and sister, are unruly foster children with an unwelcomed dog in tow. The dog is living on the streets and ends up in the hands of the dogcatcher.

When the kids go to rescue their dog from the pound, they cannot help but free all the doomed dogs. The children then renovate an abandoned building near their foster home, which becomes the “Hotel for Dogs.”

The dogs stole the film if you asked me. Each dog came equipped with his own personal characteristic or character flaw. I especially liked the bulldog with the appetite of a goat.

On the ride to school the next morning, Damien asked me if “Hotel for Dogs” was real, to which I replied, “No, honey.” He then asked me if the pound was real, and I regrettably had to confirm its existence.

Those small realizations are things I remember most from my childhood, like waking up to find my mother playing a not-so-graceful tooth fairy.

About a week after the movie, we started our move out of our apartment and into a house on the other side of town. Damien was not thrilled about the new house and his new, smaller room.

“Can we stay at our old house and just turn our new house into a hotel for dogs?” he asked.

Despite my inclination to save my son from the horrible truths of the world, I could not agree to a hotel for dogs. Knowing my luck, he would have our first guests checking in that night.

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