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HOTEL FOR DOGS – John Debney

January 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Hotel for Dogs is a kid’s comedy adventure based on the novel by Lois Duncan, directed by Thor Freudenthal, and which stars Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin as orphan siblings who, despite the misgivings of their foster parents and their patient social worker (Don Cheadle), start a home for abandoned dogs in a run-down hotel – hilarity, as they say, ensues.

The score for Hotel for Dogs is by John Debney, whose choice in films since picking up his Oscar nomination for The Passion of the Christ has been surprising, to say the least. Hotel for Dogs is the latest in a long line of children’s comedies which would seem to be better suited to less talented composers than Debney, who clearly should not be wasting his time writing music for films like this when there are dozens of other movies out there which would benefit immeasurably from his talents. Having said that, Debney is still one of the best out there are scoring this kind of movie, along with the likes of David Newman, Alan Silvestri and Marc Shaiman; he gives these films a lush and appealing Hollywood sweep, and can write a sentimental tune as good as anyone.

Hotel for Dogs sounds exactly like you think it would sound: a big orchestra, saccharine-sweet themes, sweeping strings for the heroic moments, comedy caper and rampant mickey-mousing for the action/tension scenes, all wrapped up in that glossy Hollywood sheen. I’m not going to say it’s predictable, but this score could have been written by a computer running the “Family Movie Score 101” program. There are a few moments of note: “Rounding Up the Strays” is a fun cue with a cool bongo beat underneath the action; “Puppy Love” adopts an unexpectedly Gallic tone with a harmonica and fluttering balalaikas; “Kitchen Mayhem” has a vibrant, almost Latino flavor to underscore the ensuing culinary misadventures; and some of the more rambunctious action cues, like “The Bone Chase”, ‘Pound Break Out” and “The Big Run Home”, raise the tempo considerably.

At the other end of the scale, cues like “Georgia and Her Hat” and “Dogs Are Taken Away” are gentle and charming, and sometimes even a little bittersweet, especially when Debney utilizes his subdued piano theme, while the finale in “Bernie’s Speech” and “Welcome to the Hotel” has the feel-good tone one would expect. The score for Hotel for Dogs was never released commercially, and is only available as a 60-minute promo pressed by John Debney’s publicists at Costa Communications. Debney fans will undoubtedly enjoy it a great deal, and there are some lovely moments, but on the whole this is a rather predictable powder-puff score that will only really appeal to those who like their film scores on the sweet and sentimental side.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Dinner is Served (2:32)
  • Brother and Sister Cons (1:48)
  • Main Titles (213)
  • Friday’s Kitchen Adventure (2:09)
  • Friday’s Day Out (1:19)
  • Rounding Up the Strays (2:28)
  • A Family Someday (1:18)
  • Puppy Love (1:40)
  • Bernie Picks Up Kids (0:41)
  • Hotel Discovery, Part 1 (2:45)
  • Hotel Discovery, Part 2 (3:17)
  • Stealing Food (1:10)
  • The Strays Introduced (1:53)
  • Hotel Guests (1:54)
  • Rooftop Talks (2:04)
  • Howling Lenny (1:41)
  • Kitchen Mayhem (1:37)
  • The Bone Chase (1:07)
  • Georgia and Her Hat (1:04)
  • No Barking! (0:46)
  • Pet Food Run (0:52)
  • Walking the Dogs (1:31)
  • Brother and Sister Separated (1:44)
  • The Pee Room (1:22)
  • Psycho Sheep (1:10)
  • Dogs Are Taken Away (1:36)
  • Friday Searches (1:37)
  • Together Again (1:50)
  • Pound Break-Out (2:30)
  • The Big Run Home (4:05)
  • Bernie’s Speech (4:13)
  • Welcome to the Hotel (1:09)
  • Hotel Finale (0:43)

Track Listing: 59 minutes 48 seconds

Promo (2009)

  1. Fu Zheng
    November 23, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Where can I download (or listen to) these tracks? I will be very happy if I get an answer!!! That’s my favorite music ever. Please answer! THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. November 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    As I mentioned in the review, the score for Hotel for Dogs was never released commercially, and is only available as a 60-minute promo pressed by John Debney’s publicists at Costa Communications. Sorry!

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