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Look out for more coverage of
Hotel for Dogs in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Hotel for Dogs

THE STARS:
Emma Roberts • Jake T Austin • Don Cheadle • Lisa Kudrow • Thor Freudenthal

Emma Roberts and Jake T Austin THE CONCEPT:
Two siblings, Andi (Roberts) and Bruce (Austin), living in foster care with the unpredictable and uncaring wannabe rock star Lois (Kudrow) find it almost impossible to keep their perpetually hungry dog Friday hidden. When they accidentally stumble on an abandoned hotel that is already home to a couple of strays, Andi utilizes Bruce’s mechanical genius to transform the down-and-out hotel into a magical dog paradise.

U.S. RELEASE: January 16 2009, Nationwide
• Rated: PG

THE COMMENTS:

MARK FORBES (Dog Coordinator):
Friday the dog and Jake T Austin“What you look for in a lead dog is an incredible face. You look for a face like Cosmo [who plays Friday], that just stands out. The second thing you look for is temperament. It’s got to be a dog that isn’t afraid of a lot of things and has a brain, which you’ll find in most breeds that are bred for a purpose. Whereas a dog that was just bred to be a lap dog is not as smart.”

THOR FREUDENTHAL:
“In casting the dogs for me it was a matter of how can we get as many different personalities, shapes and sizes into it? Because when you have a group of that many ‘hero’ parts, they’d better look and feel different from each other. We have a big Mastiff and its friend is a Boston terrier. It took about two weeks to set the types, and then we just tried different members of that species and chose who performed the best.”

EMMA ROBERTS:
Emma Roberts“I got the script and talked with my manager about it. We both really liked it and loved the cast, so I agreed to do it. Then I read with a bunch of people for all the other parts. I read with Jake and a bunch of other actors for Bruce, and we cast Jake. We just got along, we clicked together, I said in casting, ‘I like him the best,’ and they were like, ‘Okay.’”

JAKE T AUSTIN on the contraptions Bruce makes for the dogs:
Jake T Austin“Half of them I didn’t even know how they worked. As an actor, you’ve got to pretend that you’ve created them. My favorite one was probably the simulator where the dogs are hanging out the window and it looks like the car is moving.”

DON CHEADLE (Bernie, Andi and Bruce’s social worker):
Don Cheadle“When I read the script, I appreciated the way my character talked to the kids, because that’s how I talk to my kids, pretty straight-up and honest.”

FREUDENTHAL:
“Bernie bridges the gap to the adult world. He is their anchor. He’s a disciplinarian, someone they take very seriously but also have a rapport with.”

ROBERTS:
“Don is an amazing actor. When you meet him you expect him to be very Hollywood, but he’s like the nicest guy. He’s so down to earth, genuine and funny. He was always making jokes, which I didn’t expect from him. He’s really funny.”

AUSTIN:
“I expected him to be this serious Oscar-winning actor with his suit and tie and getting into character, but once they called cut, he was joking around on the set. He’s a regular guy which was great, he’s one of my idols and it’s great to work with him because I learned a lot.”

LISA KUDROW:
Lisa Kudrow“I loved [the script] and thought there was something different about this project. I got really excited after meeting Thor and hearing his take on how the film would look visually. When I came to the set and watched how it was being shot, I appreciated and understood what kind of beautiful and magical storybook movie this was going to be.”

FORBES on the dogs being together on screen:
Dog training?“It was very important for our hero characters to be together, so we trained them for four months. They had to be next to each other every day from the get-go. It was much more important for our big group running. For any of those scenes where we had all the dogs running together, we had very specific training times where we had all the dogs together, starting in groups of 10, and then adding dogs and adding dogs. There was no food, so there was nothing they could get jealous about, and you could pick out the ones who were not going to work out. It was my big thing in training times to weed out all the troublemakers, so we didn’t have any trouble on the set when we got there.”

FREUDENTHAL:
“The flight from the pound was tricky to film, because when they released the dogs it had to be coordinated chaos, so nobody runs the wrong way or into the lens, so it was difficult. The key to these things is to separate the scenes into manageable chunks that the dogs can pull off.”

KUDROW on her Friends’ co-star Jennifer Aniston’s dog movie Marley & Me:
“I haven’t seen it because I know it’s really sad, so I want to support Jennifer but I’m afraid to see it.”

FORBES:
“When Cosmo isn’t filming he’s just another dog. He has no idea that he’s a star. He gets to hang out in the backyard. All the trainers have dogs in their backyards that we’ve done a show with, so when we’re not working they just get to hang out.”

Dogs on the run...

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Hotel for Dogs site
Images above © Dreamworks and Nickelodeon Movies
Feature © 2009 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #701, December 2008 cover

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