Hotel for Dogs

image for Hotel for Dogs

Short takes

Not recommended under 5, PG to 10 (Scary scenes, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hotel for Dogs
  • a review of Hotel for Dogs completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 January 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to some scary scenes
Children aged 5-10 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and themes.
Children over the age of 10 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Hotel for Dogs
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language
Length: 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Based on a novel by Lois Duncan, Hotel for Dogs is the story of two orphaned siblings, Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T. Austin) who have great difficulty finding foster parents who are willing to look after them both. Their current foster parents, the fifth set in three years, are self absorbed, would be rock stars, Lois (Lisa Kudrow) and Carl (Kevin Dillon) who only took them in because they get an income from it. Andi and Bruce often find themselves in trouble with the law as they think of devious ways to make money. However, they have a very caring social worker, Bernie (Don Cheadle) who always bails them out of trouble. They have adopted a dog, Friday, which isn’t allowed to live with them but they manage to keep his existence a secret.
On one occasion, while trying to run from the police, Andi and Bruce follow Friday into a condemned building where they are surprised to find two more abandoned dogs. They decide to clean the place up and look after all three dogs. Andi is then persuaded by Dave (Johnny Simmons), who works at the local pet shop, to take three more dogs as he can’t keep them at the shop anymore. One thing leads to another and before long, there’s a whole lot of dogs living there causing much mayhem and mess. The very ingenious Bruce however, makes clever gadgets that help with the feeding, cleaning, exercising and entertainment of the dogs. Things all go awry eventually when the local dogcatchers discover where all of their dogs have gone.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Loss of parents, foster homes, animal distress, children breaking the law

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Andi and Bruce witness a bank robbery and are then chased by the police
  • Dave gets knocked out by one of Bruce’s gadgets
  • Carl grabs Bruce by the shoulder and threatens him.
  • A large dog growls fiercely at a smaller dog and chases it through the building.
  • The large dog attacks a dog catcher

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • the dogcatchers are large and intimidating men
  • the condemned building is quite scary: furniture covered in dust sheets, lightning and thunder cracks, and eerie music.
  • the large dog is quite fierce.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • the children sell a fake item to a pawnbroker for money
  • Bruce is arrested by the police
  • Friday is picked up by the dogcatchers
  • the dogs in the pound will be put down if not collected
  • the children steal items from their foster parents’ home

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

It is unlikely that children over the age of eight would be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen would be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Pedigree dog food

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh my God
  • Crap

In a nutshell

Hotel for Dogs is a family comedy, which is, although highly improbable, quite entertaining.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • care and concern for animals
  • care and concern for others
  • collaboration and working as a team.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • There are better solutions to problems than lying and stealing
  • Breaking the law andgoing against authority will often land you in trouble