In December of 1997 I was six years old. As a very frequent zoo visitor and owner of two precious cats, I loved animal movies. (Hell, I still love animal movies.) So naturally, when Mousehunt was released that month, I saw one of the posters – which features an adorable mouse holding a pile of crackers, cheese and olives – and immediately decided that it was going to be my new favorite film.
Ernie (Nathan Lane) and Lars Smuntz (Lee Evans) have inherited an old house and a string factory after their father passes away. Both down on their luck (one kicked out of the house by his wife, one recently fired from his job as a five-star chef) and not sure where to go, they head up to the creaky old house and decide to stay there.
Soon, the brothers realize that the house is worth a ton of money and is the “missing design” of a famed architect. They decide to fix it up and sell it at auction, hoping it will bring them the money that will solve all of their problems.
There’s one little thing standing in the way of this dream coming true for them: a mouse. An incredibly sneaky and intelligent little mouse is living in the walls of the old house, and naturally the brothers must get rid of him in order for the house to sell, but this task will take a lot more effort than they initially thought.
Gore Verbinski (Rango, The Ring) directs this film from an original screenplay by Adam Rifkin.
My sister and I decided to watch this one night when we stumbled across it on Netflix. Both of us remembered loving it when we originally saw it, but having not seen it in over ten years, we didn’t remember many of the details of it. We literally could not conjure up a single detail about it. We knew it would be, at the very least, interesting to see again after so many years.
Mousehunt delivered in that respect and in many other ways.
The opening of the film is very funny and that sense of humor (a silly but laugh-bringing brand) is maintained throughout the entire film. There are actually a lot of really great slapstick moments here (like the first “mouse chase” scene, in which the brothers end up consistently hitting each other rather than the targeted mouse). While I’m sure these scenes made me laugh as a kid, I can appreciate them even more now since I’ve become a fan of slapstick comedy through silent film.
On top of my love for the silly slapstick gags I also think there are some great comedic performances here. Quite a few of the film’s cast members are more well-known as voice actors (Nathan Lane is Timon in The Lion King), but they’re all really enjoyable to watch in live-action format as well.
The film has a bit of a whimsical and fantastical feel to it in the vein of Matilda, Beetle Juice or Penelope. Quirky art direction and a few wildly exaggerated elements of the story add a lot to the film’s sense of fun.
Mousehunt is an extremely silly but highly amusing little film that holds up very well — the premise calls for the silliness. I’d watch it again for guaranteed laughs (either from the odd characters or the slapstick) or at the very least for CATZILLA.