Dunston checks in

Fun for All Ages

Take a hotel (like in the TV series) and put an incompetent, but diplomatic type (preferably also from a TV series) into the position of manager. Let him have two kids, though, so that he remains more loveable than pathetic. But let the kids be scoundrels and mischief-makers right off the bat, but not too bad, so that they can wind up helping to capture the villain of the piece. Better than the kids, though, the title character turns out to be an orangutan; that's where the monkey-shines really begin.

You know what they say about animals and children? They're cheaper to feed. Add in one parody of David Niven-as-jewel-thief-type and we're almost there. Put a hard-headed, ruthless, but comical woman in as the hotel owner's wife (Wonder who this could be based upon? Did anyone see the mini-series?) and we're ready to go. Pity we can't set the Marx Brothers loose in the building.

Jason Alexander, Faye Dunaway, Glenn Shadix, Rupert Everett and Paul Rubens are all notables who wind up within the walls of the Majestic Hotel. (Glad to see ya again, Pee Wee.) Let me be the first to say that Faye Dunaway looks fabulous all the way through, (be it in a pink Chanel dress or pink cake with cream).

Director Ken Kwapis (responsible for TV's cult series Eerie, Indiana) is so enthusiastic about the title star's talent and ability to improvise ('He's obviously the key to the whole picture') that he compares him to Buster Keaton. Larry Madrid, his trainer, find a stronger resemblance to Chaplin ('...he's breaking new ground in comedy.') Can't you just go ape-shit about monkey-hype?

Worth a visit, especially if you don't want to think, but only to sit back and relax. (By the bye, I wonder how many of our Dutch viewers can spot the Paul de Leeuw look-alike in the film. There is no prize for the right answer.)

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett