Thor Freudenthal might possibly be the most ironic person to direct the new family comedy Hotel for Dogs.

“I’m personally kind of a cat person but I found that putting a camera on a cat makes the cat look bored,” said the director while promoting the film recently in L.A. “Dogs are always participating in something, they’re so expressive and I think that’s why they’re great for the screen.”

There’s no disputing that argument. From Marley & Me to last year’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua, canines have never had such a presence in family-based entertainment. For Freudenthal, the reason became clear while making Hotel for Dogs, which opens in theatres this Friday.

“There’s this bond unlike any other bond between a dog and a human being,” said Freudenthal. “There’s that innocent quality to them that has no agenda but to please us or give love in a way.”

“It’s a common interest too,” added star Emma Roberts. “Even if two people are completely opposite, you can bond over (dogs).”

In the film, Roberts plays a foster child who, along with her brother (Jake T. Austin), discovers an abandoned hotel and transform it into a majestic home for all the homeless mutts they can manage. But that doesn’t mean things were especially friendly on-set. With more than 60 dogs running around, each with their own trainer, making Hotel for Dogs would be considered anything but domestic bliss. “We did have a couple of instances where we had a lot of them in one room and there was either a little fight breaking out or somebody got a little too hungry,” laughed Freudenthal.

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