Dunston Checks In

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

Dunston Checks In
Dunston Checks In.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byKen Kwapis
Produced byTodd Black
Joe Wizan
Screenplay byJohn Hopkins
Bruce Graham
Story byJohn Hopkins
Music byMiles Goodman
CinematographyPeter Lyons Collister
Edited byJon Poll
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • January 12, 1996 (1996-01-12)
Running time
90 minutes
United States
Budget$16 million
Box office$9.9 million


Lionel Spalding (Glenn Shadix) and his dog Neil arrive at the prestigious, five-star Majestic Hotel where he is accidentally drenched by an overflowing fountain due to a prank by Kyle (Eric Lloyd) and his older brother 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 in Barbados afterwards, only to be forced to cancel the trip for a third time by the ruthless, haughty 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 from a laundry chute. Dunston flees from Rutledge and is later found by Kyle, who befriends the poor orangutan and promises to keep him safe. However Dunston soon begins causing disruption in the hotel such as ruining Spalding's workout and interfering with Mrs. Dellacroce's massage. 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 and gags him. 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 stands up to Mrs. Dubrow, but is fired in the process. However, it turns out that Lionel Spalding, who had been humiliated, injured and inconvenienced by Dunston's antics, was the critic all along. As a result, Spalding declares Mrs. Dubrow managed to go from a five-star hotel to a one-star hotel before passing out from LaFarge's tranquilizer dart. 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 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 Spalding's head.



The film received mostly negative reviews from critics, and holds a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Some contemporary reviews were more generous, however. Desson Howe and Rita Kempley of The Washington Post referred to the film by saying "it ain't half bad", and a "plucky, prank-filled family farce" respectively.[3] 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 soufflé and just as delicious", and "plays like a tribute to the resourceful, unpretentious studio productions of the past".[4] According to an article published in the Chicago Tribune, "The cast is talented, the hide-and-seek action is silly (not killing), and the bond between a sweet little boy and the adorable ape is touching."[5]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A" on a scale of A+ to F.[6]

Faye Dunaway's performance in the film and in The Chamber earned her a Golden Raspberry 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.[7]

Home mediaEdit

Dunston Checks In was much more successful in home video than in theaters. As of April 1997 the studio had an estimated $41.6 million in video sales, receiving 75%, greatly exceeding box office gross.[8] The film was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on VHS on May 27, 1998. It was released on DVD on May 25, 2004 and October 8, 2013.


  1. ^ Petrikin, Chris (February 18, 1998). "Fox renamed that toon". Variety. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ 'Dunston Checks In' (PG) Retrieved January 2012
  4. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Dunston Checks In' Rates Five-Star Fun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 2012.
  5. ^ "Kids Should Go Ape Over 'Dunston Checks In'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 2012.
  6. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2020-07-21.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Matzer, Marla (1997-04-16). "Direct-to-Video Family Films Are Hitting Home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 June 2011.

External linksEdit