Hotel for Dogs (PG) appears to be an innocuous kiddie flick backing a good cause: Pedigree dog foods is making donations to animal shelters and rescue missions for each ticket sold. I'm guessing Pedigree's wallet won't be hit too hard.
Director Thor Freudenthal makes his feature film debut after a career of animated short subjects and special effects development for the Stuart Little movies. He's obviously easing into the director's chair with Hotel for Dogs.
Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew) and Jake T. Austin (TV's Wizards of Waverly Place) star as Samaritans for canines, turning an abandoned house into a comfy haven for stray dogs. Trailers suggest that everything simple-minded that Marley & Me avoided will be displayed here.
Hotel for Dogs was not screened for Weekend review.
Kevin James is taking a higher road from television to Hollywood than, say, Ray Romano, who seemed to expect everyone to immediately love him just as much in movies. James successfully played second banana to established movie stars Adam Sandler (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) and Will Smith (Hitch) before tackling a lead role.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG) casts the former King of Queens in the title role, a meek security guard turned tiger when he's trapped inside a mall with mobsters. Doesn't sound like anything to make James the next great movie comedy star, but at least he has humility.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop wasn't screened for Weekend review.
Way back when slasher movies were purely dumb fun, one of my faves was 1981's My Bloody Valentine, especially the memorable sight of a body pummeled to goo inside a clothes dryer. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
Now that cheap thrills have given way to gruesome endurance tests, someone thinks it's a good idea to reboot My Bloody Valentine (R) and show the carnage in 3-D in selected theaters.
Jensen Ackles (TV's Smallville and Supernatural) plays Tom Hanniger, who returns to his hometown 10 years after the Valentine's night massacre of 22 people. Tom is immediately suspected of the killings since criminals always return to the scene of the crime. Jaime King (The Spirit, Sin City) co-stars as the former girlfriend who believes in his innocence.
My Bloody Valentine wasn't screened in advance for review.
Here's something you don't see every day: a Bollywood kung fu action comedy. Better hurry, because Chandni Chowk to China (not rated, probably PG-13) isn't likely to last long at Tampa's Channelside Cinemas.
Chandni Chowk is the Delhi, India, home of the peasant Sidhu (Akshay Kumar), who is identified by two strangers as the reincarnation of an ancient Chinese warrior. The idea of an exalted life surrounded by beautiful women appeals to Sidhu, whose trek to China is guided by a corrupt translator named Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey). Sidhu doesn't realize he's being set up for battle against the evil smuggler Hojo (Gordon Liu).
Chandi Chowk to China is the first Bollywood film released in the United States by Warner Bros., whose now-defunct Warner Independent Pictures originally laid claim to Slumdog Millionaire. The movie wasn't screened by a Times critic.