Film: Dunston Checks In

And they say a boy’s best friend is a dog . . .
“He's about to turn a Five Star Hotel into a three ring circus.”

Written by John Hopkins and Bruce Graham, Dunston Checks In is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Ken Kwapis. The movie stars Jason Alexander, Eric Lloyd, Faye Dunaway, Rupert Everett, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix.

As beleaguered manager of the luxurious Majestic Hotel, Robert Grant not only deftly juggles with keeping the hotel in order, but he has to control his troublesome and mischievous sons as he prepares for the hotel's upcoming annual gala. Things get complicated when his snobbish boss Mrs. Dubrow, owner of the establishment, shows up with unwelcome news: A Le Monde travel association undercover as a guest is slated to award a sixth star to the most elite five-star hotels in the world. If Robert does well, he might get promoted and some time off to take his sons on vacation... but if the Majestic Hotel doesn't get the sixth star, he loses his job.

Then jewel thief Lord Rutledge checks into the hotel in hopes of stealing valuables with his specially trained orangutan, Dunston. When Dunston flees his malevolent master, he inevitably causes mayhem wherever he goes, eventually meeting Robert's youngest son Kyle, with whom he forms a close bond. Unfortunately, things get much more difficult when Robert catches sight of Dunston and calls the determined but inept animal control officer LeFarge to kill the orangutan.

This movie provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His Orangutan
  • Affably Evil: Lord Rutledge.
  • Babies Ever After: The final scene shows that Dunston is in Bali and has a baby with his mate.
  • Bad Boss: Mrs. DuBrow, who has no problem firing her own employees just for the pure heck of it; she even has a hotel alert named for her by her staff whenever she turns up in person.
  • Butt Monkey/Chew Toy: Lionel Spaulding is often the victim of pratfalls and other forms of comedic abuse. Lampshaded when LaFarge slaps him:
    "Why is everyone in this hotel always slapping me?!"
  • Bound and Gagged: Kyle ends up this way when Rutledge discovers Dunston's hiding place.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Buck LaFarge; being played by Paul Reubens helps.
  • Dead Partner: Dunston used to work with his brother Samson, and he has a photo of the two of them together. It's heavily implied that Rutledge had Samson killed for failing him in the past.
  • Description Cut: "As of this moment, they are both on their best behavior." Cut to Kyle, Brian, and Dunston making a mess of a hotel room they snuck into.
  • Everything's Better with Orangutans
  • Funny Background Event: As Robert is in a meeting, LaFarge is searching for - and getting attacked by - Dunston right outside the window.
  • Grevious Bottley Harm: Defied during the fight in the kitchen.
    [Rutledge brandishes a wine bottle]
    Grant: NO! NO! That's the Chateau Lafitte.
    Rutledge: [looks at it] Good year.
    [puts it away, fighting resumes]
  • Hammy Herald: "DuBrow alert!"
  • Here We Go Again: Lionel Spaulding checks into the Grants' new hotel in Bali, and almost immediately Dunston starts causing trouble for him again.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: The boys put their prank-playing expertise to use foiling a jewel thief.
  • Hotel Hellion: Kyle and Brian play pranks on the hotel guests for fun. Naturally things only escalate when Dunston shows up.
  • Improvised Weapon: The fight in the kitchen. Among the implements used are a ladle, a whisk, and a 20-pound bag of coffee beans. And a wine bottle, almost.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: Robert and Mrs. DuBrow think Lord Rutledge is the Le Monde agent, when really it's Lionel Spaulding.
  • Missing Mom: Kyle and Brian's mother is implied to have passed away; not that it has much bearing on the plot in this case.
  • Nice Guy: Mr. DuBrow is much friendlier than his shrew of a wife.
  • Papa Wolf: Robert throws Rutledge into a table for tying up Kyle.
  • Precision F-Strike: When seeing Dunston:
    Robert HOLY SHIT!!!
  • Put on a Bus: In-universe example; Mr. DuBrow comes to see Kyle and Dunston in person while Mrs. DuBrow is away "scouting hotel sites in Alaska".
  • Reality Ensues: When Robert sees Dunston, he calls LaFarge — for all he knows, the orangutan could be dangerous.
  • Secret Keeper: Brian becomes this in regards to Kyle's friendship with Dunston.
  • Sibling Team: Kyle and Brian team up to pull pranks on hotel guests.
  • Shout-Out: Kyle has a Spider-Man doll.
  • Trailers Always Lie: A teaser trailer begins with a Christmas theme as who we thought was Santa Claus coming down the chiminea is Dunston.
  • Tropical Epilogue: The family adopt Dunston and move to a hotel in Bali, simultaneously giving themselves that holiday they always wanted (even if it's rather a Busman's Holiday for Robert) and giving Dunston a more suitable home.
  • Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: When attempting to hide Dunston in a hotel room, the brothers check him in under a name randomly picked from the phone book, and just for good measure, make him a doctor:
    Brian: Got it. Lam Binh Ngoc. Doctor Lam Binh Ngoc. If they think you're a doctor, you can get away with anything.
  • Verbal Judo: Between Lord Rutledge, Robert, and Mrs. DuBrow:
    Lord Rutledge: Well, from the look of the soup, it appears one of the chefs has a severe hair loss problem. Other than that, it was absolutely delightful. Good night.
    Mrs. DuBrow: Well? How was his meal?
    Mr. Grant: Well, I believe he used the words "absolutely delightful".
  • Would Hurt a Child: During the climax, when Kyle prevents LaFarge from shooting Dunston, a furious Mrs.DuBrow tries to catch the boy. Dunston saves Kyle by knocking DuBrow into a huge cake.
  • You Are Grounded: After Kyle and Brian pull a prank on hotel guests in the beginning of the movie.