The Curator of Schlock #51 by Jeff Shuster

Dunston Checks In

(Ape of the Week: Orangutan)

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The country is going ape crazy due to that Dawn of the Rise of the Battle for the Planet of the Apes movie. Therefor, the remainder of August will be Ape Month here at The Museum of Schlock. We’re going to do a different primate each week so hold onto your bananas and enjoy the ride. First up is Dunston Checks In, a comedy about an orangutan with a penchant for cat burglary.

Dunston Checks In from director Ken Kwapis is a stupid movie for stupid people. That came out the wrong way. Let me try again. Dunston Checks In from director Ken Kwapis is a delightful family comedy that’s fun for all ages. In other words, this is a kid’s movie. We have nothing against children here at The Museum of Schlock, but we do insist that parents tie the younglings up outside before entering the premises.

What’s the plot? There’s an evil jewel thief by the name of Lord Rutledge (Rupert Everett, obviously) who uses his pet orangutan named Dunston to help steal jewels from the rich patrons of the Majestic Hotel.

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Rupert Everett was in Cemetery Man, a movie that I have great fondness for seeing as how it was the swansong for Italian horror cinema. I also remember reading somewhere that he wanted to play James Bond someday. I’d like to think it was this film that ruined his chances of playing 007. On the plus side, we do get to Everett sporting a glorious set of crooked British teeth.

Jason Alexander plays Robert Grant, the manager of the 5-star hotel and single father of two boys. Unfortunately, Robert Grant is a likeable man who misses his deceased wife and treats his staff with kindness. This is a far cry from the George Costanza we know and love. You won’t be hearing any bits about how wonderful the word manure is or how Pepsi is better than wine. Instead, we get a sensible family man. You do get to see a fight between Rupert Everett and Jason Alexander with kitchen utensils, though.

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Fay Dunaway plays Mrs. Dubrow, the mean hotel owner who is obsessed with the idea of the Majestic getting a 6-star rating.

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Fay Dunaway was also in Three Days of the Condor. You know, the ending of that movie bugged me. Did The New York Times print Joseph Turner’s story? If they didn’t, he was a dead duck. If they did print it, he had a fighting chance. I still can’t wrap my head around there being a CIA within the CIA.

Paul Reubens stars in Dunston Checks In. He plays Buck LaFarge, an animal control guy who is hired to shoot the monkey.

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I used to watch Pee Wee’s Playhouse when I was a kid. I used to scream whenever the secret word was said aloud. Conky the robot would give those out every episode. I’ve said this before, but robots were a thing back in the 80s. They’re making a comeback though. It’s called a JIBO and can’t wait to have one next to my bedside so it will watch me while I sleep.

Some of you may be wondering where this review is going. I don’t care. I don’t want to talk about Dunston Checks In anymore. This is the last time I’m taking a schlock recommendation from Mr. Sean Ironman! Good luck in Arkansas!

Five Things I Learned From Dunston Checks In

1.     Orangutans don’t just eat bananas. They’re also partial to quiche.

2.     It’s okay to call orangutans monkeys.

3.     It’s okay to shoot monkeys if they’re trashing your hotel.

4.     It’s okay to smush cake with pink frosting into Fay Dunaway’s face.

5.     It’s okay to end a children’s movie with a hotel critic’s skull getting crushed by a coconut.

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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.

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