In Thor Freudenthal's heartwarming wag based on Lois Duncan's book, the strays aren't your usual mangy curs but well-groomed pedigreed show dogs who're aw-shucks cute. That's the kind of bright, fluffy, Nickelodeon world it is.
The bit of darkness comes from Bruce (Jake T. Austin) and Andi (Emma Roberts), young siblings who've been in and out of foster homes since their parents died. They suck it up to remain together, but a run-in with the law threatens to change that. Good thing they (and the movie) have Don Cheadle to look after them. His compassionate social worker, Bernie, gets them furloughed, and on a whim they concoct the covert object of title, a gadget-infused home for the unwanted replete with canine cinema and a poop-scoop conveyer belt.
The animal handlers bring off some amazing mass ménage chaos, and Kevin Dillon and Lisa Kudrow add kick as the out-of-tune rock-star-wanna-be foster 'rents.