Allow me to preface this by telling you why I went to this movie. Unlike a professional movie critic, I typically try to stay away from films that I think are going to suck. With a full time job as a CPA I only have a certain amount of free time to indulge my cinematic cravings; therefore I usually go see the films that look good to me or have received high critical acclaim. So when my 4 year old son was in town for spring break, I was sad to discover that this was the only movie in theaters that I thought would be appropriate for his age. I would so have loved to take him to Monsters vs. Aliens, but that didn't come out for two more weeks, so Hotel for Dogs it was, to my chagrin.
This is a movie about two orphaned kids, a brother and a sister about 12 and 16, who are constantly bouncing around from bad foster parents to other bad foster parents, because evidently all of the good foster parents won't take a brother and a sister their age. Of course their evil foster parents won't let them keep their mangy dog inside, so they spend all of their time and effort stealing and defrauding people in order to feed the poor thing. One day, when running from the cops, they discover a huge abandoned hotel with a couple of dogs living there. They decide to board their own dog there, and subsequently begin listening to police scanners and rescuing stray dogs from all over the city, with the help from 3 other kids who want to help.
I know what you're thinking. "The plot is flawless, and this movie sounds amazing! How did you not like it?" First, it was easier for me to suspend my disbelief for Star Wars. The 12 year old kid is a genius inventor who creates a house full of contraptions that would make Leonardo DeVinci proud, in order to help with all the dogs they accumulated. In addition to the inventions, they somehow trained all these stray dogs to use a toilet, stand in line for rides, etc. Second, every adult character in this movie is an evil douche bad, except for Don Cheadle's character and his wife. Third, the acting, apart from Cheadle (how did he get duped into this?), is atrocious, but even if the actors had been brilliant the script is so bad that it wouldn't have mattered. Four, the message this movie sends is that it is ok to commit crimes and spit in the face of authority if you deem it a worthy cause. Not that I disagree with them trying to prevent a dog holocaust in the local pound, but it is a bit far fetched to think that the pound would immediately execute 50+ dogs. No pun intended.
I can at least say that it was relatively clean enough for my son to see, and he seemed to enjoy it to a certain extent, especially the potty humor. Oh and there was tons of potty humor, the word "humor" being used very loosely here. One thing I noticed about the film was that the only reaction it ever got out of me was the occasional cringe, never a laugh, not once. I was in a great mood too. I love taking my son to the movies, and in general we had a good time, but it was definitely in spite of Hotel for Dogs.