The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 100 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Kyla Pratt, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon, Don Cheadle
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Music by: John Debney
Written by: Jeff Lowell, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 28, 2009
"No stray gets turned away"
Hotel For Dogs is a funny, heartwarming and inspiring animal adventure that shows how far love and imagination can take you. When 16-year old, Andi (Roberts), and her younger brother Bruce (Austin) find themselves in a foster home with a strict no pets policy, they must use their quick wit to find a new home for their dog, Friday. When they stumble into an abandoned hotel, they realize they can transform it into the perfect place for Friday- as well as all the strays in the city. What began as a crusade to save one dog becomes a high stakes adventure as everyone around them starts to wonder- who let the dogs in?
This is a family friendly film about two orphaned kids who find a sense of purpose in caring for a stray dog named Friday. Andi (Roberts) and Bruce (Austin) live with the Scudders (Kudrow and Dillon), are a pair of performing rock and roll wannabe foster parents that are far from the nurturing type. The kids keep Friday a secret and thanks to some inventive gadgetry by Bruce he is able to get to their third story apartment bedroom window so he can sleep with them at night. In order to feed him the kids have to resort to raising money using cons and flimflams which leads to trouble with the law. The only person that seems to genuinely care for their well being is Bernie (Cheadle) who is the Social Services case worker they are assigned to. After their last brush with the law Bernie smoothes things over but warns that any more trouble and they could wind up being separated. One day they innocently end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and on the run from the police. Friday leads them into an abandoned hotel where they discover a small group of stray dogs have taken up residence. Shortly afterward Friday is picked up by the local dog catcher and Andi and Bruce have to spring him. In the process they discover that many of the strays that are picked up by the dog catcher are only kept for 72 hours then euthanized. The kids along with the help of a few friends decide to gather any strays they can find and keep them at the hotel. Bruce uses his knack for invention (learned from his dad) to create devices for feeding, entertaining and housing the K-9 guests as they transform the rundown hotel into a home for the city's strays.
Hotel for dogs is a formulaic but charming film from Nickelodeon. There is enough cute, cuddly pooches to illicit the awww factor from dog lovers and the story hits all the right notes to be entertaining for the whole family. I loved the creative gadgets (especially the driving/car window simulator) featured in the film. I wasn't crazy about the beginning which started out with the kids conning people and going to pawn shops but the story quickly turned away from that. It then focused on the need for the kids to help the orphaned dogs and in a sense, themselves as well. The interaction with the dogs and seeing the Scudders get their comeuppance made for lots of fun. The ending was typical but that's fine with me because I am a sucker for happy endings. I am a Don Cheadle fan and while this was far from a demanding role his presence made this movie all the more enjoyable. This is a great one to watch with your kids.
The rating is for mild thematic elements, language, and some crude humor. I didn't see anything here that would be inappropriate for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Hotel for dogs comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.5 mbps.
This is a great looking video presentation that boasts vivid primary colors and excellent depth and dimension. Images are sharp, delineated and revealing of subtle textural detail that enhances the perception of minutia within clothing, physical features and objects onscreen. Blacks are rich with deep highlights that provide plenty of pop during dark sequences that contain mixed content. Detail in shadowy backgrounds and uneven lighting in the hotel and nighttime exterior sequences is quite good which gives those segments appreciable depth of field. Grain is noticeable and tends to be is a bit more pronounced in low lit scenes but is never distracting. Fidelity never wavers in this beautifully rendered high def encoding from Paramount. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack readily delivers the goods in this fun and sometimes active surround mix. Dialogue is distinctive, free of sibilance, and appropriately elevated within the front soundstage. The atmospheric sounds of the city, falling rain, the upbeat music score, and the various voices of the dogs all come across with crystal clarity and proportionate spacing that create a believable and occasionally enveloping soundscape. Dynamics are punchy and bass has tangible weight that added solidity/depth to the claps of thunder during the driving rain storm sequence. This presentation won't bring down the house but it had moments when it sounded great.
- Commentary by Thor Freudenthal, Ewan Jack Leslie, Emma Roberts, and Jake T. Austin
- (HD) A home for everyone: The making of Hotel for dogs - 19 minutes
- (HD) That's the coolest thing I have ever seen - 6 minute featurette on the film's gadgets
- (HD) K-9 casting - 6 minute featurette
- (HD) Bark on cue! - 4 minute featurette
- (HD) 8 deleted scenes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Photo galleries
- (HD) The Pedigree Adoption Drive - Public service announcement
Hotel for dogs is an entertaining family film that can be enjoyed by all. It doesn't bring anything new to the table but is based on a formula that works. I liked the cast (including the four legged ones!) and got a kick out of the inventive gadgetry featured in the story. Its high definition audio/video presentation from Paramount Blu-ray is right on the money. The bonus features are more fluff than substance but all are offered in high definition which is always welcomed. If you're looking for a cute, cuddly, and charming film for family video night feel free to give this one a rent.
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