Dunston Checks In

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Dunston Checks In
Dunston Checks In.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Produced by Todd Black
Joe Wizan
Screenplay by John Hopkins
Bruce Graham
Story by John Hopkins
Starring Eric Lloyd
Graham Sack
Jason Alexander
Faye Dunaway
Rupert Everett
Glenn Shadix
Paul Reubens
Music by Miles Goodman
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister
Edited by Jon Poll
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • January 12, 1996 (1996-01-12)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million
Box office $9,871,065

Dunston Checks In is a 1996 American family comedy film starring Eric Lloyd, Graham Sack, Jason Alexander, Faye Dunaway, Rupert Everett, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and introducing Sam the Orangutan as Dunston. It was written by John Hopkins and Bruce Graham and directed by Ken Kwapis.


Lionel Spalding (Glenn Shadix) arrives at the Majestic Hotel, a 5-star Hotel, when he ends up accidentally being hosed by Kyle (Eric Lloyd) and Brian (Graham Sack), the young sons of the overworked hotel manager Robert Grant (Jason Alexander) as they play with the controls for the fountain lobby. Robert, extremely frustrated with his sons, makes them promise to be on their best behavior for the next few days, just until they can take their long-awaited vacation which has been rescheduled several times already. However, ruthless hotel owner, Elena Dubrow (Faye Dunaway), informs Robert that his vacation must be cancelled again because she has just learned that the Le Monde Traveller Organization will reward the best hotels in the world a sixth star, and that there will be a spy from Le Monde at the approaching Crystal Ball.

The main antagonist of the movies, "Lord" Rutledge (Rupert Everett) is an arrogant jewel thief who sees the Crystal Ball as an excellent opportunity for him to use the talents of a smuggled orangutan named Dunston, whom he has trained in thievery. We learn that Dunston had an older brother, Samson, and it is heavily implied that Rutledge killed Samson for disobedience. Dunston is portrayed as fearful of Rutledge and desirous of friendly companionship in a scene where he watches the Planet of the Apes while waiting for Rutledge's signal to begin the robbery. Due to Rutledge's peculiar behavior, Mrs. Dubrow believes him to be the Le Monde spy, and encourages Robert to treat him with special courtesy.

Just after a successful heist, Dunston flees from Rutledge and is later found by Kyle, who befriends the poor orangutan and promises to keep him safe. Despite Kyle's protestations that there is a monkey in the hotel, and that Rutledge is the one who brought him, Robert disbelieves him. After becoming aware of Dunston's presence, Robert calls for an animal control specialist named Buck LaFarge (Paul Reubens) to remove Dunston from the hotel.

Rutledge searches the hotel for Dunston, and after locating him, ties Kyle up. Dunston and Kyle escape to the ballroom where the Crystal Ball is taking place, obtaining a picture of Rutledge, Dunston, and Samson from Rutledge's room. Kyle and Brian show the picture to their dad, and Robert is infuriated when Kyle says Rutledge tied him up. Brian and Kyle search for Dunston, avoiding LaFarge and Mrs. Dubrow, while Robert and Rutledge fight in the kitchen. Robert eventually manages to stand up to Mrs. Dubrow, but is fired in the process. However, it turns out that Lionel Spalding, who had been humiliated and injured by Dunston's antics throughout the film, was actually the critic all along. As a result of the disastrous shenanigans, he immediately reduces the Majestic to a 1-star hotel. Rutledge is arrested and LaFarge apologizes to Dunston, who then punches him.

In the end, Robert, Kyle and Brian relocate to Bali, to manage a Majestic hotel there, and have even managed to find Dunston a family there. They invite Mr. Spalding to visit, providing him with a complimentary room and meals to make up for all the trouble he experienced and assure him that nothing will go wrong this time. However, in the last scene, Dunston causes further trouble by dropping a large coconut which falls on his shaft.



The film had received overwhelming negative reviews from critics, and holds a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this, the film received positive reviews from several professional film reviewers, Desson Howe and Rita Kempley of The Washington Post referred to the film by saying "It ain't half bad." and "Plucky, prank-filled family farce" respectively.[1] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated that 'Dunston Checks In' "is a delightful and funny family film of exceptional high style.", "as light as a souffle and just as delicious.", and "plays like a tribute to the resourceful, unpretentious studio productions of the past." giving the film five out of five stars.[2] According to an article published in the Chicago Tribune, "The cast is talented, the hide-and-seek action is silly, and the bond between a sweet little boy and the adorable ape is touching."[3] Faye Dunaway's performance in the film earned her a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress, but did not win the award.


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