Dunston Checks In (1996)

Monkey Business

Robert Grant (Jason Alexander) somehow manages to keep all the balls in the air; he is a single father to two young boys and he manages to keep The Majestic, a five star hotel running belonging to his demanding boss Mrs. Dubrow (Faye Dunaway). But when Mrs. Dubrow learns a hotel inspector will be coming to the hotel Robert has to cancel his planned vacation with his sons to make sure things remain running smoothly. Things then takes a surprising turn when Robert's youngest son Kyle (Eric Lloyd) claims to have seen an orang-utan in the hotel and it isn't as far fetched as it sounds as Lord Rutledge (Rupert Everett), a guest at the hotel, is a thief who uses Dunston, his orang-utan to sneak in to rooms and rob guests of their valuables.

If I was to judge "Dunston Checks In" on the storyline I would say well its okay I suppose with the comedy goings on at a hotel with an eclectic group of characters from a demanding owner through to a con artist. But "Dunston Checks In" isn't about the storylines it is about a lot of set pieces and some actors delivering surprisingly entertaining performances for what is essentially a bit of family fluff.

Rupert Everett in Dunston Checks In (1996)

To give you an idea what I am on about it is impossible not to smile when we watch Dunston channel hopping and clapping when he comes across the kiss scene in Planet of the Apes or when having sneaked into a hotel room he crawls along the floor. And I could go on because what "Dunston Checks In" is is rich in a lot of set piece humour with it all pretty much working. It is also rich with performances especially Rupert Everett's who seems to be channelling Terry-Thomas in his performance as Lord Rutledge whilst Faye Dunaway's demanding boss is a master class in snobbish obliviousness.

But in truth the star of "Dunston Checks In" is Sam probably the greatest orang-utan actor since Manis who played Clyde in "Every Which Way But Loose". The timing of Sam as Dunston and in fairness the work of the editing team behind the movie make Dunston such a wonderful character with one amusing scene after another making you smile. In fairness the actors all work well with Sam but he steals the scene from everyone even Rupert Everett.

What this all boils down to is that "Dunston Checks In" is daft but daft in such a good way that even as a grown up the humour made me laugh and in some ways I am sad this movie wasn't around when I was a child rather than now being a guilty pleasure.