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Film / Dunston Checks In

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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, he meets Robert's younger 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 get rid of the orangutan.


This movie provides examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Brian is constantly allured by and flirting with the guests as he and Kyle pursue Dunston.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Rutledge's first victim and former flame, Mrs. Dellacroce, is a little too happy to be spending the week at the hotel without her husband; she proceeds to spend her time flirting with multiple men, even after she falls for the masseuse.
  • The Atoner: Robert becomes this after he realizes that Kyle was telling the truth about Dunston.
  • Babies Ever After: The final scene shows that Dunston is in Bali and has a baby with his mate.
  • Badass Mustache: Rutledge sports one, and is meant as another sign that he's bad news.
  • Bound and Gagged: Kyle ends up this way when Rutledge discovers Dunston's hiding place.
  • 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?!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Buck LaFarge; being played by Paul Reubens helps.
  • Comically Missing the Point: While discussing the Four Seasons with potential patrons, Robert sees Dunston appear in the window behind them, and curses in surprise.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Just as Rutledge gets an advantage on Robert during the kitchen fight, Brian smacks him in the face with a mop.
  • Dead Partner: Dunston used to work with his brother Samson, and he has a photo of the two of them together with Rutledge. It's heavily implied that Rutledge killed Samson for failing him in the past.
  • Description Cut: "As of this moment, (Brian and Kyle) are both on their best behavior." Cut to Kyle, Brian, and Dunston making a mess of a hotel room they snuck into.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The movie starts with Brian and Kyle attempting to prank a hotel employee whose only crime was taking their frisbee when they threw it towards the buffet table.
  • Everything's Better with Orangutans
  • Evil Is Petty: Mrs. DuBrow puts Robert up to firing one of his own employees simply because she hadn't made such a request in months. Her latest victim? A young and very kindly female clerk who had bumped into her completely by accident.
  • Food Porn: A fair share of this given that it's set at a five-star hotel.
  • Funny Background Event: As Robert leaves a meeting with his clients to find Dunston, he gets attacked by him, in view of the window in Robert's office and right behind his waiting clients.
    • Happens again to LaFarge who is called in to capture Dunston; this time Dunston gets their attention and the potential clients decide to leave.
  • Genre Savvy: Lord Rutledge tracks down Dunston by looking up which suites ordered the most bananas via room service.
  • 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:
    Grant: NO! NO! That's the Chateau Lafite.
    <Rutledge looks at the bottle>
    Rutledge: Good year.
    <puts it away, fighting resumes>
  • Large Ham: Lord Rutledge, played by none other than Rupert Everett.
    • Also the Comically Serious Buck LaFarge, courtesy of Paul Reubens.
    • Finally, Mrs. DuBrow to a lesser extent.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The entire hotel goes into panic whenever Mrs. DuBrow shows up.
  • Mean 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.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The boys spend their time in the presidential suite ordering all kinds of meals for Dunston (and themselves), every one of them containing bananas. Unfortunately for them, they didn't count on Lord Rutledge hacking into the hotel's room service records.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Assuming Lord Rutledge to be the undercover agent observing the hotel's day-to-day services, Mrs. DuBrow does everything in her power to woo him in the hopes of the hotel being awarded a sixth star; In doing so, she completely ignores the true hotel agent, Lionel Spaulding, who after all of the abuse he's endured tells her at the end that she's instead been downgraded to one star.
  • Papa Wolf: Robert throws Rutledge into a table for tying up Kyle.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The boys dress up Dunston as a wheelchair-bound doctor in a fedora and heavy coat, but are unable to disguise his face. Suffice to say, it works anyway.
  • 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.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Dunston has thoroughly crashed the evening ball, Mrs. Du Brow goes into yet another angry tirade against Robert for the antics of his kids. His response:
    Robert: Mrs. DuBrow!
    Mrs. DuBrow: WHAT?!
    Robert: ...Have you tried the cake? (Shoves a huge chunk of it in her face)
  • Trailers Always Lie: A teaser trailer begins with a Christmas theme, only with Dunston coming down the chimney rather than Santa Claus. The movie doesn't take place around Christmastime.
  • 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 the hotel thinks 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.


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