MouseHunt

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

When once-wealthy string magnate Rudolf Smuntz (William Hickey) dies, he leaves his outdated string factory and a run-down mansion to his two sons, Lars (Lee Evans) and Ernie (Nathan Lane). When Lars declines an offer by representatives from the large Zeppco conglomerate to buy their string factory, his greedy wife April (Vicki Lewis) promptly throws him out. Meanwhile, Ernie serves Mayor McKrinkle (Cliff Emmich) at his restaurant in anticipation of becoming a famous chef for serving such a high-profile guest, only for the mayor to accidentally consume a cockroach and die from a resulting heart attack in concerns of his twin daughters Becky and Betty. As a result, Ernie loses both his house and his job.

Both homeless and jobless, Ernie and Lars are forced to live in the mansion together. Finding blueprints of the mansion, they discover that it is a lost masterpiece designed by famous architect Charles Lyle LaRue. Alexander Falko (Maury Chaykin), a wealthy LaRue collector makes an offer, but Ernie declines under the belief they can make a larger profit by restoration and auction. However, the brothers have already realized that the house has an occupant: a highly-intelligent mouse. Fearing a repeat cockroach incident, Ernie decides that they need to get rid of the rodent. Despite attempting a wide array of methods, including numerous mousetraps and a vacuum cleaner, they fail. To make their situation worse, Ernie borrows $1,200 against the house mortgage to buy a jacuzzi tub (which is lost to the bottom of a nearby lake), and the bank threatens to foreclose on the house in two days unless they reimburse the money. The brothers purchase a monstrous cat to deal with the mouse while they set out to find a way to pay the mortgage, but the cat is killed when the mouse sends it on a one-way trip down the dumbwaiter. They then hire an eccentric exterminator named Caesar (Christopher Walken) to handle the mouse, though he too is outsmarted.

Meanwhile, Lars attempts to raise the money by withholding the salaries of the string factory’s employees. The angry employees instead go on strike, and Lars’s attempt to run the factory himself ends in disaster. Elsewhere, Ernie discovers documents about the offer for his late-father’s factory and attempts a rendezvous with the Zeppco representatives. However, distracted by two attractive Belgian hair-models named Hilde (Camilla Søeberg) and Ingrid (Debra Christofferson) while he is waiting, he is struck by a bus and rushed to a hospital, missing his appointment. Lars later meets Ernie in the hospital and explains that April, now aware of Lars’ possible auction profits (and having made love with him upon finding out), has agreed to pay the mortgage off.

Upon returning home to find a delirious Caesar being carted away by paramedics, the brothers resume their task to kill the mouse with renewed obsession. When Ernie chases the mouse up a chimney and gets stuck, Lars tries to light a match while the mouse starts a gas leak, creating a terrible explosion that blasts Ernie out of the chimney and into the lake. In rage, Ernie grabs a gun and fires it at the mouse, accidentally shooting a compressed can of pesticide left by Caesar that explodes and causes enormous damage to the property.

As the brothers recover from the blast, Zeppco calls and leaves an answering machine message, stating that they have withdrawn their offer to buy the factory. Now angry at each other for all the lies and deception, the brothers start arguing and Lars starts throwing fruit, but accidentally hits the mouse and knocks it unconscious. Unable to finish it off, they instead seal the mouse in a box and mail it to Fidel Castro in Cuba. With the mouse seemingly gone and with April having paid off the mortgage, the brothers reconcile again and finish renovating the house.

The night of the auction finally arrives, which is attended by Falko, April, Hilde and Ingrid, and a wide variety of international multi-millionaires. Falko attempts to get Ernie to call off the auction with a sizable offer, but Ernie declines and the auction soon begins. However, Lars discovers the mouse’s box in the snow outside, returned due to insufficient postage and with a big hole gnawed through it. Lars and Ernie panic upon seeing the mouse return, but attempt to maintain their composure as the auction continues. When the mouse’s antics starts sparking panic and riot in the guests, the brothers desperately attempt to flush out the mouse by feeding a hosepipe into the wall. As the auction reaches a record $25 million bid, the house rapidly floods through the walls and finally the floors, and all the people are washed out of the house as it promptly collapses. Watching as April and all the bidders leave in disgust, the brothers’ only consolation is the fact that the mouse must finally be dead.

With nowhere else to go, the brothers return to the factory and fall asleep, with only a single chunk of cheese for food. The mouse, having followed the brothers, restarts and feeds the cheese into the machinery to make a ball of string cheese, which inspires Ernie and Lars. In the final scene, Ernie and Lars end their war with the mouse and have successfully rebuilt the factory as a novelty string cheese company. Lars has begun a relationship with Hilde, Ernie is able to put his culinary skill to work in developing new cheese flavors, the mouse has become his personal taste-tester, and their father’s spirit is finally pleased.

REVIEW:

MouseHunt is one of those flicks that I have long avoided because I thought it was just another cheap attempt to cash in a board game…and yet I willingly watched Battleship a couple of years ago. Oy! As it turns out, this is a favorite film of the lady of the house, which means I better at least check it out once. Will I like it? Or will I be forever doomed to sleep on the couch?

What is this about?

Two brothers want to sell the mansion they’ve inherited — but first they must evict its diminutive tenant: a mouse with no intention of leaving.

What did I like?

Move over Mickey. As you can tell by the title and the poster, there is a little mouse that is actually the star. Not only does he cause much frustration for the humans who are trying to sell the house he is currently occupying, but he also is a cute little character. The filmmakers don’t necessarily give him human emotions, make him talk, or anything like that, but every now and then you can see that they tease him to be human-ish, such as when he is getting ready for bed and gets all snuggled in before Lee Evans’ character starts shooting up the wall with a nail gun. I’m not really sure what that was about, honestly, other than he was just trying to kill the mouse.

Slapstick. There are many varying forms of comedy. Some work for some films and some don’t. For instance, I can’t see this working as a romantic comedy, can you? On the other hand, a physical, slapstick comedy seems to be just what the doctor ordered. The hijinks these two brothers, as well as a few others, endure as they try to catch the ever elusive mouse is just too funny and perfect to be done with the kind of humor that almost requires a disclaimer before the film starts.

Paint your emotions. Cartoons will often have a painting that seems to have wandering eyes or change emotions when the main character gets near it or someone says something related to it. Well, the painting of the dearly departed father appears to have the same mannerism. Throw in the fact the camera pans over to it every chance it gets to show the different emotions. At first, I found this to be unnecessary, but as  the film wore on, it became a bit of the charm, as if the father were still parenting his boys. Of course, I was also half expecting his ghost to pop out of there like Vigo in Ghostbusters II.

What didn’t I like?

Be the bad brother. The way this film sets the brothers up is that one is the good brother that the father seemed to care for, while the other is the one that wasn’t as loving. That second brother went on to become a popular chef, until his restaurant randomly is closed down because he fed roaches to the mayor and his family. By cinema logic, this should make for some kind of villain original, right? Instead, he becomes a good guy, just greedy. The only shade of that evil brother comes when he tried to sell the string factor behind his brother’s back, and that doesn’t happen because he was too busy flirting and wound up getting hit by a bus! They just didn’t let the guy be bad, no matter how hard he tried!

String theory. I’ve never really given it much thought, but I guess there actually are factories that churn out string. However, I’m sure they don’t look like sweatshops, as the one in this film seems to resemble. I say that not knowing exactly the time period in which it is set (it never is really made clear). I still wonder why they chose a strong factory of all places, though, other than what happens in the end which is convenient for a mouse.

Catzilla. As one can imagine, with a mouse, there must be a cat. The brother go to the pound/animal shelter and get this monster cat, named “Catzilla”. The thing chases the mouse for a while and then suffers a fate unbefitting such a magnificent creature. Given that the mouse is supposed to be the hero in the film, I can allow the defeat of Catzilla. I cannot let slide that he suffered such a horrendous end, not can I let is go that he was vanquished so easily. Hell, they took longer building him up than he was actually on screen….just like Godzilla, I guess.

Letting the smoke clear, the obvious question is what did I think of MouseHunt, right? Well, it has its moments of ups and downs. Nathan Lane and Lee Evans have decent enough chemistry together, the mouse is cute, and the colorful, light tone to the film make it watchable. However, there are problems with the film, most notably that it starts with a rather dark tone for what it obviously a kid’s flick. I mean, Matilda starts off dark, but it is nothing compared to this! There are other issues, but let’s right down to it, shall we? Should you take the time to watch this? Yes, I see no reason why you should about your life avoiding this film. It may not be for everyone, but I’m sure most people will at least get a laugh out of it here or there. Check it out sometime!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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