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 Brian and Kyle 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 Rutlidge checks in the hotel in hopes of stealing valuables with his specially trained orangutan, Dunston who was forced into a life of crime by his violent owner. When Dunston flees his malevolent master in hopes to escape, the primate makes some merry mischief in the glamorous hostelry upon meeting Robert’s young son Kyle, much to the chagrin of the frantic hotel staff and befuddled guests. Along with causing mischief while keeping Dunston a secret, Kyle tries to help Dunston out of stealing. Unfortunately, things get much more difficult when Robert catches sight of Dunston and calls the determined but inept animal control officer LeFarge to kills 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.
  • 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.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: When seeing Dunston:
    Robert HOLY SHIT!!!
  • Dead Partner: Dunston used to work with another orangutan named Samson, and he has a photo of the two of them together. It's heavily implied that Rutledge had Winston 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
  • Hammy Herald: "DuBrow alert!"
  • Here We Go Again: The Grants move to a brand new hotel, and then the very same inspector shows up there and Dunston immediately starts ruining his stay.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: The boys put their prank-playing expertise to use foiling a jewel thief.
  • 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:
    [Rutledge brandishes a wine bottle]
    Grant: NO! NO! That's the Chateau Lafitte.
    Rutledge: [looks at it] Good year.
    [puts it away, fighting resumes]
  • 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.
  • 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, apparently often.
  • Shout-Out: Kyle has a Spider-Man doll.
  • Tropical Epilogue: The family adopt Dunston and move to manage 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.