Childhood Favorites Revisited: Mousehunt (1997)

One of the poster designs for Mousehunt highlights a scene where the brothers get attacked by their own traps. (Image: moovidadb)
One of the poster designs for Mousehunt highlights a scene where the brothers get attacked by their own traps. (Image: moovidadb)

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 brothers make a mess in the kitchen in pursuit of the mouse. (Image: Daily Film Dose)
The brothers make a mess in the kitchen in pursuit of the mouse. (Image: Daily Film Dose)

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.

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12 thoughts on “Childhood Favorites Revisited: Mousehunt (1997)

  1. I used to both love and hate that movie. I’ve always liked antiques and history, so it was absolute torture to watch that lovely old house get brutalized like that. I’ve also never been a huge fan of that particular brand of physical comedy. But I cannot deny that the movie definitely had me in stitches!

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    1. It is sad to see the house destroyed! My sister and I agreed that if we’re ever in a situation like that of the Smuntz brothers, we’ll keep the house and live in it rather than sell(/ruin) it, and we’ll fill it up with even more antiques. :) Thanks for reading!

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  2. I’ve never had any desire to watch this film, but now, Lindsey, I’ve added it to my Netflix queue, because I trust your judgement, and know that you would never, ever steer me wrong. Plus, I know you’ll give me a refund if I’m not completely satisfied! I also saw that Monkey Trouble was available for streaming; unfortunately, I did not add that one to the queue; one bold step per day is my limit.

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    1. My judgement can always be trusted since my taste is admittedly strange/eclectic/somewhat questionable. I must also warn you that I only offer refunds in the form of Cary Grant jpgs. If you’re into slapstick at all, though, this film is a really nice tribute to that style of comedy!

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      1. Well, I’m going to give it a try…how could I turn down an eclectic and somewhat questionable recommendation? Watch for my review, coming soon! And on a comedic note, at first I thought the comment ‘offer refunds in the form of Cary Grant jpgs’ actually read ‘offer refunds in the form of Cary Grant pigs’…which made no sense to me whatsoever.

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        1. Obviously I own a farm full of teacup pigs named “Cary Grant” that I give out to people who don’t like films I recommend to them. Silly me for accidentally typing “jpgs” instead!

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  3. I never heard of the film, Mousehunt (1997). I will give it a try. I really enjoyed my stay on your blog and added you to my blog roll on my side-bar.

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    1. It’s available on Netflix if you subscribe to Instant. :) Thank you for your kind words and adding me to your blog roll, I’m always glad to hear that people enjoy TMP!

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