Hotel for Dogs

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Hotel for Dogs Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Young pet lovers will get a kick out of dog comedy.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 34 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 55 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

May help teach kids the importance of community involvement.

Positive Messages

Overall, despite a bit of iffy behavior on the part of the main characters, the film sends the message that young people can make a difference in their communities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The siblings are very close, but they also do some iffy things to make money -- like pawning fake cell phones.

Violence & Scariness

Slapsticky violence like characters falling, stepping on poop and pee, etc. Also references to dead parents and "awful" foster care.

Sexy Stuff

Teenagers flirt, and one couple kisses, while another girl gives a boy a quick smooch. A teenage boy calls two characters "fine" and "hot."


Very mild -- "stupid."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Nickelodeon-produced comedy about an orphaned brother and sister (played by tween faves Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin) who set up a secret refuge for stray dogs is targeted squarely at the family market. Because the main characters are orphans living in foster care, there are some references to dead parents, but it doesn't get too emotional. And with no swearing or consumerism and only mild flirting (though there are a couple of kisses), the movie is age-appropriate for grade-schoolers while still appealing to tweens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKoalaDelRooster W. August 14, 2017

Bad movie, made girlfriend cry

It made my girlfriend cry, what the hell man
Adult Written byTacolover83 February 11, 2021

Whole hearted film!

The movie itself is very good, and is a huge part of my childhood! I feel like it's appropriate for children of all ages, as it gives you a lot of laughs w... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old March 24, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written byPcman21 November 6, 2020

Above average uninspired movie

I think this movie is a pretty good fit for kids but I have seen a LOT of movies very similar to this movie, but if your kids have not seen a movie like this or... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on Lois Duncan's children's book series, HOTEL FOR DOGS follows orphaned siblings Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T. Austin) who secretly care for their beloved dog Friday while they live with self-absorbed, dog-hating foster parents. After Friday runs into a condemned old building, Andi and Bruce discover two dogs already living in the once-grand hotel and decide the place would make a perfect safe haven for the city's strays. With Bruce's knack for expertly engineered contraptions and the help of three local teens, the young animal lovers christen their little sanctuary the Hotel for Dogs.

Is it any good?

If Marley and Me is considered one of the most realistic -- and emotionally wrenching -- depictions of life with a dog, this is probably one of the least realistic (talking-canine flicks aside). Even if you go along with the concept that a boarded-up hotel would still be filled with furniture (even gym equipment!), it will be difficult for adults to believe that an 11-year-old could come up with all of Bruce's intricate inventions (a self-cleaning golden hydrant where the dogs can raise a leg, an automatic dog-bowl filler, a car-window ride simulator, etc.). That said, the kooky contraptions are probably the best part of the movie, and kids will get a kick out of the whole thing.

The movie's subplot is about whether the siblings will ever find a permanent home. When their bad-hair, rock-wannabe foster parents (played by Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon) find out about the kids' antics, Andi and Bruce are forced to go to group homes. Luckily for them, their social worker, Bernie (Don Cheadle), is determined to find them a sanctuary -- just like they're intent on saving the city's endangered dogs. Predictably enough, there's a warm-and-fuzzy ending. Be warned, though: Young kids may want to go straight from the movie theater to rescue a dog at the pound.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why so many movie kids are orphans. Do you feel more sympathy for kids who don't have parents? Do they seem like bigger heroes than other kids?

  • Do movies like this ever make you anxious about your own family? Parents: Talk to your kids about any fears or worries they might have about being without you.

  • Kids: Can you think of ways that your actions can make a positive change in your community?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animal movies

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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