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
Music by Miles Goodman
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister Alex Quigley
Edited by Jon Poll
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • 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.


The story begins on Wednesday March 22, 1995. Lionel Spalding (Glenn Shadix) arrives at the five-star Majestic Hotel where he is accidentally drenched by an overflowing fountain due to a prank by Kyle (Eric Lloyd) and Brian (Graham Sack), much to the stress and frustration of the hotel manager and the boys' widowed father Robert Grant (Jason Alexander). He is disappointed with the boys but they are guaranteed a vacation afterwards, only to be forced to delay the trip for a third time by the ruthless hotel owner, Elena Dubrow (Faye Dunaway), due to the upcoming Crystal Ball where one of the guests is revealed to be a critic from the Le Monde Traveller Organization who they hope will reward the Majestic with a sixth star.

At that moment, "Lord" Rutledge (Rupert Everett) a jewel thief (who is thought to be the critic by Mrs. Dubrow), arrives with an orangutan named Dunston, intending to steal the guests' jewelry. Dunston and his deceased brother Samson were both trained in thievery their entire lives. Now Dunston has been wanting to escape from Rutledge's poor treatment and life of crime ever since.[citation needed]

Meanwhile, Rutledge distracts and causes Kyle to accidentally set a sterling rope mini-pulley free from his hand where Brian falls down and out of the laundry chute. Dunston flees from Rutledge and is later found by Kyle, who befriends the poor orangutan and promises to keep him safe. After realizing 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, was the critic all along. As a result, Mr. Spalding says Mrs. Dubrow deserved to go from the five-star hotel to the one-star hotel. Rutledge is arrested and LaFarge apologizes to Dunston, who then punches him.

In the end, thanks to the more kind-hearted Mr. Dubrow (Nathan Davis), Robert, Kyle and Brian relocate to Bali, to manage a Majestic hotel there, and have even managed to keep Dunston as a pet. They invite Mr. Spalding over with a complementary 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 lands on his head.



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. On top of this, Warren Hayes, editor of Kestrel Magazine, described the movie as "Gut-wrenchingly funny" and "an unforgettable masterpiece that will be remembered for generations to come". [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 and in The Chamber earned her a Stinkers Bad Movie Award nomination and a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress. The film was also nominated at the 18th Youth in Film Awards (Young Artist Awards) for Best Family Feature Film: Musical or Comedy, and Eric Lloyd for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Actor Age Ten or Under. The film was successful at the box office in India, where it was dubbed as Ek Bandar Hotel Ke Andar. [4]

Home media[edit]

Dunston Checks In was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on VHS on May 28, 1996. It was released on DVD on May 28, 2002 and October 11, 2011.


  1. ^ 'Dunston Checks In' (PG) Retrieved January 2012
  2. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Dunston Checks In' Rates Five-Star Fun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 2012.
  3. ^ "Kids Should Go Ape Over 'Dunston Checks In'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 2012.
  4. ^ Saikat Neogi (1996). "The dubbing craze started by Jurassic Park has become a major industry today". Rashtriya Sahara. Vol. 4 no. 7–12. Sahara India Mass Communication. 

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