HOTEL FOR DOGS

hotel

Overall Impression – Never trust anyone over 17.  Or human.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who are your main characters? – Bruce and Andi.

What are they trying to accomplish? – Professional: Rescue all the stray dogs of Central City. Personal: Not be split up.  Private: Find a real family of their very own.

Who’s trying to stop them? – Alternates between their foster parents and the animal control officers at the pound.

What happens if they fail? – They are split up and all the dogs are destroyed. 

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Bruce and Andi are real, honest to goodness orphans.  

Wanderer – Andi and Bruce discover the abandoned hotel and try to figure out how to take care of all of the dogs they seem to be collecting.

Warrior – As the number of dogs grows, they have to stay a step ahead of their step parents who are suspecting that something’s up, as well as animal control whom they thwart by getting to the strays before they do.

Martyr – Once split up, Andi leaves her Dickensian Home for Girls and gets Bruce from his Dickensian Home for Boys where they make a daring rescue of all the dogs who are now in the pound.

AND, IN THE END…

All writers of children’s stories eventually face the dilemma of having to write a “Dad’s An Idiot”  story wherein kids are preternaturally smart and one or more adults are insufferably stupid.  HOTEL FOR DOGS elevates this concept to new heights (or new lows, as the case may be) by making almost every adult in the story not  only stupid, but evil.

Why would adults — presumably the demographic who made this movie — make a movie that paints them in the worst possible light?   For the money?  That’s like me taking the gig to do an adaptation of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  The real crime here is that some really heroic, compassionate people such as foster parents and people who work for animal control are portrayed as scumbags.  If you want to see a good movie about orphaned kids, people who work with animals, and foster parents re-rent FREE WILLY.

Beyond this, HOTEL FOR DOGS does a disservice to writing in that it panders to its youthful audience.  The gaps of logic and story glue are so pronounced that you can almost hear the creators saying “That’s okay, it’s for kids!  They won’t notice.”  And judging by the kids I saw this with, they didn’t.   It’s not unlike BEDTIME STORIES in that way.  It’s the story logic version of Woody Allen’s observation of the systematic lowering of standards.  It used to be that a kid’s story was LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE or CHARLOTTE’S WEB.  Now it’s HOTEL FOR DOGS.  

The problem is that the next generation of writers will learn their craft from fond memories of movies like this.  We’re mortgaging our storytelling future on the cheap, I fear.

— Jeffrey Alan Schechter

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