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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 54:02)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

Dunston Checks In

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 84 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Uh, no actually it is an orangutan. Stuart Little made every kid want to get a talking pet mouse, Jurassic Park made every kid want to get a dinosaur (um, maybe not), and Dunston Check’s In makes every kid want a cuddly, smart, funny orange fur ball. No, not Garfield, but Dunston, the orangutan. Well, when this film was in the cinemas that is how some of us felt... not mentioning any names, of course.

Like any kids’ film, the script is paper-thin and doesn’t hold terribly much in the way of debatable content. Yet, this script, similarly with Ice Age and any Pixar production, holds content for both adults and children, but on two totally different levels. On one level, the physical level, there is the comic humour of people hitting each other by mistake and chains of mishaps, as well as people falling over (OK, that’s funny for all) yet on the verbal level, jokes (often sexually based) appear for adults only. The kids are lost in the on-screen action, and the adults understand the dialogue over these sequences. Kids’ films aren’t that bad, you just need to be open-minded about them and enjoy them for what they are worth... or not worth as the case sometimes is.

Faye Dunaway stars as hotel executive Mrs Dubrow and plays the heartless child-hating mischief-loathing bitch so well. And what comedy is not complete without the addition of Jason Alexander (a.k.a. George Costanza from TV’s Seinfeld)? Alexander plays hotel manager Robert Grant, who lives with his two sons (played by Eric Lloyd and Graham Sack) in the hotel. But this week is the week of the Crystal Ball, and the hotel-reviewing-scheme has sent an undercover agent to review the already-five-star hotel to see if it is applicable for the new 6-star scheme. After being grounded for playing a practical joke that played out on guests instead of just staff, Kyle (Eric Lloyd) and Brian (Graham Sack) have little to do except sit around the foyer. Brian is after the honeys while Kyle watches guests come and go.

And then a suitcase comes in. A suitcase that moves. A suitcase that knocks. Kyle knocks back, and then meets Lord Rutledge (a perfect Rupert Everett), the owner of this case. But Lord Rutledge is more than he seems, and his trusty case holds more too – in fact, it holds an orangutan named Dunston. Dunston is looked after by Rutledge, who looks after himself by stealing jewels and riches. Well, that is a bit of a lie, because it is Dunston that sneaks up the outside of the building, through a window and is able to enter rooms without being noticed by security cameras in the hallway... but anyway, that is another part of the story. After being threatened by Rutledge, Dunston runs off, well out the window actually, and meets Kyle. Kyle and Dunston then become friends, and set out to catch the evil Rutledge. Anyway, this is the start of the film, and then follows the hilarious adventures of Dunston and Kyle! OK, take out hilarious and you may have something closer to the truth. Not that it isn’t funny, but it is enjoyable as a kids' movie...

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

The colours are rich and vibrant, yet appear to have been brushed over with a warm orange tone, making them appear similar to an NTSC transfer, albeit not as bad - just slightly orange. The bright pallette used in the film appears strong on screen, and looks great. The tones are all fairly warm with soft neutral colours supporting the brighter foreground action. The blacks aren’t terribly black, and at times appear very blue. Yet, with the blue blacks there is no sign of low level noise.

Throughout the film, minor cases of aliasing can be seen, mainly on window frames and building edges – the usual culprits. There is very fine grain visible on and off throughout the film, with only very few minor film artefacts. The grain isn’t distracting, and the transfer appears to be free from MPEG artefacts.

At times the picture does appear to be slightly soft, which causes the image to lack some definition. The image is still great, but just looks flat with soft edges.

The disc is graced with six possible subtitle languages. The periods sampled of the English track appeared to be logical, but not perfectly word-for-word. Entire words have been changed and sentences restructured to suit the subtitles.

An incredibly fast and neat layer change occurs at 54:02, smack bang in the middle of a scene change. It doesn’t get much better than this!

  Audio
Contract

There are five possible audio tracks available for listening. Only one if you speak English though...

The English track is in Dolby Digital 5.1, with the remaining tracks being Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded. The other possible languages are French, German, Italian and Spanish. Obviously, being an American (not English), the only soundtrack worth listening to is the English one – nay, American.

The 5.1 track utilises five of the six channels remarkably well. The most ideal example of the sound is at 59:07 where a Frisbee is thrown from the right speaker to the rear right, around the back of the audience to the rear left and then back to the front left. The only down side to the surround channels is that they are too loud compared to the front half of the soundstage. The subwoofer is incredibly supportive to the score and effects, but does little else.

Dialogue is clear and crisp throughout, with only Kyle’s voice occasionally distorting. It must be a thing to do with little kids...

  Extras
Contract

This bare-bones disc has a static, silent menu with the only extra feature being a trailer. The trailer is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. It features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and runs for approximately 1:05. The image is of the same quality as the film, just slightly brighter and suffers from some slight telecine wobble. The scene selection page features static icons of the scenes, and only having three main menus to browse, navigation is a piece of cake.

  Overall  
Contract

For kids, the movie is a sweet film with a reasonably original script and a cute orangutan to keep them amused. The video is quite nice, with a superb audio track. Sadly the features miss out... But for your kids, it may be worth a purchase, or at least a hire.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1631
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      And I quote...
    "Is that an orangutan in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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