With such a far-fetched story that requires its audience to suspend its disbelief again and again though, the filmmakers smartly inject enough chase scenes and doggie stunts designed to help you forget the lack of a truly coherent plot. And while Hotel for Dogs lags in a couple places, it's still got plenty of room to roam in its 100-minute running time.

In addition saving the dogs, a great supporting turn from Don Cheadle adds a little heft to this mostly lightweight affair as Bernie, the kids' compassionate and wise counselor of sorts. While it's a head-scratcher on why a fantastic actor like Cheadle would sign up for a bit part in something like Hotel for Dogs, his character's presence in these kids' lives adds some needed checks and balances, even if it's a bit later than most parents would hope, given Andi and Bruce's predilection for doing whatever it takes (stealing, conning and challenging authority) to rescue the puppies from potential harm.

Aside from those antics, Hotel for Dogs is a pretty solid choice for family entertainment. While not as funny as Bolt, it's ultimately more substantial than Beverly Hills Chihuahua and doesn't require any Kleenex like Marley & Me, which should make parents happy while their kids get another helping of delightful doggie antics.
      
CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  A couple of mild profanities and scatological humor that involves discussion of how to deal with the puppy's poo.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Depiction of teen romance with some kissing and embracing.
  • Violence:  Only of a comedic nature, but chase scenes may be a bit too intense for children under 6.
  • Worldview:  Because Andi and Bruce are orphans and currently in the care of wannabe rock stars who could really care less about what they do as long it doesn't involve owning a dog, there aren't many behavioral checks and balances in their lives. While there's a strong moral view of helping the homeless (whether it's pets or people), there are instances where these kids challenge authority, steal and con people without being rebuked. Thankfully, Bernie does bring some guidance into these kids' lives, but the aforementioned lawbreaking is still worth noting.

 

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.