Maximiliano Hernandez – Hotel for Dogs

January 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

He may have started taking acting lessons to get out of detention back in high school, but actor Maximiliano Hernández soon found himself attending the same theatrical classes even when he wasn’t getting in trouble.

Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Hernández, who is of Honduran descent, got his start in the industry off-Broadway before turning his attention to T.V. After one-episode bit parts on shows like “Law & Order” and the short-lived “Conviction,” Hernández earned roles in director Mira Nair’s 2006 drama, “The Namesake” starring Kal Penn (“Harold & Kumar”) and the crime drama “Pride and Glory” starring Edward Norton (“The Incredible Hulk”) and Colin Farrell (“In Bruges”).

Hernández now stars in the family comedy “Hotel for Dogs” with Emma Roberts (“Nancy Drew”) and Academy Award-nominated actor Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda”). In the film, Hernández, 35, plays Officer Mike, a policeman on the trail of the film’s two troublemaking albeit dog-loving kids. Via phone, he talked about what led him to acting and what kind of dog he’s hoping his son will choose when he’s old enough to take care of one.

Other than it getting you out of detention, what else did you enjoy about acting when you first started?

I think it’s all about finding a character in yourself. When you start exploring the things that are inside you, it’s interesting and cathartic. It’s nice to go through those emotions.

How has your theatrical experience helped you with the work you are doing today?

I think theater did everything for me. It taught me to focus and listen to people. These are tools I can carry with me for the rest of my life. To me there’s nothing like theater. Television and film are great, but there’s something about having an audience watch as you put yourself through these moments. There’s something beautiful about that. You don’t always get something like that in life. For young actors, it’s a perfect way to start your career.

But at some point you realized you wanted to move on…

Yeah, I was doing theater for years. One night at a show in New York, a manager came up to me and handed me his card and said he’d really like to talk to me. Within a month of having a manager, I did an episode of “Law & Order” and starting doing more TV. It was nice find someone who could see my ability.

I know you have a 5-year-old son named Diego. How exciting is it for him that you’re in “Hotel for Dogs,” a movie that he can actually see?

(Laughs) He’s really excited. We just got back from New York and he saw this huge display for the movie and he pressed his face against the glass and was like, ‘Papa, the movie!’ This is my first family film.

Do you have a dog at home?

We don’t have a dog. My son asks me for one everyday. I grew up loving dogs. I was the one that brought strays home. When [Diego] turns 10, he can pick any dog he wants.

Since you worked with so many purebreds in this movie, is there any that you’re hoping he’ll choose when he’s old enough to get one?

I’m very partial to the French bulldog and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. But I’m not going to put any thoughts in his head, wink, wink.

Hotel for Dogs

January 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Don Cheadle
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal (debut)
Written by: Jeff Lowell (“Over Her Dead Body”), Robert Schooley (“Sky High”) and Mark McCorkle (“Sky High”)

Call off the rescue mission. “Hotel for Dogs” is in so much trouble from every filmmaking aspect, not even a massive St. Bernard with one of those little brandy-filled kegs around its neck can save it from dying a cold and bitter death.

Based on a book by Lois Duncan, who jumps to another genre after writing the novels that inspired the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” slasher series, “Hotel for Dogs” is an absurd family film about a pair of foster siblings who spend their time rescuing dogs and housing them in an abandoned hotel.

Andi (Emma Roberts) and Bruce (Jake T. Austin) have been shipped to five sets of foster parents in the last three years because of behavioral issues. They’re social worker Bernie (Academy Award nominated actor Don Cheadle, who’s doing some cinematic slumming here) tells them that if they act up again, he will be forced to place them separate homes. Getting out of their present situation isn’t a bad idea (they’re living with two rude wannabe rockers played by Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillion) but Bruce is too dependent on his big sister to handle another home on his own.

The kids, however, decide that they’re love of dogs far outweighs the advice of their case manager. Instead, they start saving stray dogs off the street (who just happen to all be purebred, clean, and well-trained) by rounding them up in a condemned hotel near their home. They get help from other kids in the neighborhood who seem to be the only ones in the entire city to notice the vacant hotel has new tenants.

Starting a doggie day care is far easier than one would imagine. Since Bruce is a novice inventor (a trade he learns from his father although nothing else is said about the kids’ parents), he creates a network of pooch-friendly machines and simulators that allow the pets to walk themselves, feed themselves, and play catch all on their own. Forget that at the beginning of the film Andi and Bruce have to hustle a pawn shop to afford food for one stray dog, now they can somehow feed them by the dozens.

While Roberts and Austin are likeable as actors (she is Julia’s niece and did fairly well as the title character in 2007’s “Nancy Drew” and he is a Disney Channel veteran), you can’t help but wonder who really stunk up the joint, the dogs or the humans. When one of the characters exclaims, “We’re out dogged,” you’ll know you’ve had your fair share of puppy jokes for the day. Easily-entertained young children and biased dog lovers might enjoy the cuteness of man’s best friend, but when a script is this pointless you have to wonder why producers didn’t just print it out and use it as a puppy pad during production.