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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gore Verbinski|
|Written by||Adam Rifkin|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Edited by||Craig Wood|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Box office||$122.4 million|
Mouse Hunt (stylized as MouseHunt) is a 1997 American slapstick black comedy film written by Adam Rifkin and directed by Gore Verbinski in his directorial debut. It stars Nathan Lane and Lee Evans with Maury Chaykin and Christopher Walken in supporting roles. It was the first family film to be released by DreamWorks Pictures, who released it in the United States on December 19, 1997.
The film follows two Laurel and Hardy-like brothers in their struggle against one small but crafty house mouse for possession of a mansion which was willed to them by their father. The film is set in the late 20th century, though with styles humorously ranging from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Once-wealthy string magnate Rudolf Smuntz dies, and he leaves his factory to his two sons; the well-meaning and optimistic Lars, and venal cynic Ernie, who has ignored the family business to become a chef. When Lars refuses a buyout from a cord company called Zeppco, his money-hungry wife April throws him out. Meanwhile, at Ernie's restaurant, the mayor is dining and suffers a fatal heart attack when he accidentally eats a cockroach, and the restaurant closes down. With nowhere left to go, the brothers take refuge in an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of town, left to them by their father. While attempting to sleep, the two are bothered by a mouse and, when investigating him, find blueprints of the house.
The two discover from the blueprints that the property was the final design of famed architect Charles Lyle LaRue and would be worth a fortune if properly restored. Ernie and Lars decide to restore the property and auction it to recover their lives. During the renovations the two destroy the mouse's home, prompting the mouse to take revenge and sabotage their construction efforts. Conventional methods to get rid of the mouse fail as he repeatedly outwits the brothers. They resort to increasingly drastic methods to remove the mouse, including buying a psychotic cat named Catzilla, whom the mouse drops down a dumbwaiter to his defeat, and then hiring an eccentric exterminator named Caesar. Meanwhile, the two brothers discover the house has an unpaid mortgage on it they cannot pay off and, because of their inability to pay the string factory's workers, the workers go on strike.
Ernie learns about Zeppco's offer to buy the factory and secretly plans to accept the deal. While Caesar is working, Lars goes to the string factory to make enough string to pay off the mortgage, in the process getting stripped completely naked, and is met by April who learned about the house's worth and takes him back. Ernie's attempt to meet with Zeppco's representatives fails when he is hit by a bus while trying to impress two Belgian hair models. Lars informs him that April has given them the money to pay off the mortgage, but the two return to the house to find it further destroyed and Caesar traumatized from the mouse dragging him through the house by his truck winch.
The brothers resume their crusade against the mouse, accidentally destroying part of the floor with a bug bomb Caesar left behind, and then turn on each other when they overhear a voicemail exposing Ernie's attempt to secretly sell the factory and Lars previously turning down their offer. During their argument Ernie ducks from an orange thrown by Lars, which hits and stuns the mouse. The two cannot bring themselves to kill him, and they seal him in a box mailed to Cuba. The brothers reconcile and finish their renovations. The night of the auction, Lars discovers the mouse's box, returned due to insufficient postage and with a hole gnawed out of it (as Lars forgot to weigh the mouse). As the auction progresses, the brothers attempt to flush out the mouse by feeding a garden hose into the wall, causing the house to explosively flood and collapse as the buyers flee. April leaves with a wealthy bidder and the brothers take solace in the assurance the mouse must have perished in the collapse.
The brothers sleep the night in the factory, unaware the mouse has followed them. Witnessing their sorry state, the mouse activates the factory's machinery and drops a chunk of cheese into it, producing a ball of string cheese. Inspired, the brothers renovate the factory to focus on producing string cheese, with Lars running the factory while getting a new girlfriend, Ernie as his chef, and the mouse as their taste tester for new flavors.
- Nathan Lane as Ernie Smuntz
- Lee Evans as Lars Smuntz
- Vicki Lewis as April Smuntz
- Maury Chaykin as Alexander Falko
- Eric Christmas as Ernie and Lars' lawyer
- Michael Jeter as Quincy Thorpe
- Debra Christofferson as Ingrid
- Camilla Søeberg as Hilde
- Ian Abercrombie as an auctioneer
- Annabelle Gurwitch as Roxanne Atkins
- Eric Poppick as Theodore Plumb, the banker.
- Ernie Sabella as Maury, a worker at a dull, colorless pound.
- William Hickey as Rudolf Smuntz, string magnate (this was Hickey's last film before his death)
- Christopher Walken as Caesar, an odd and eccentric exterminator hired by the Smuntz brothers to rid them of the mouse.
- Cliff Emmich as Mayor McKrinkle
Mouse Hunt received mixed reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 42% of 31 critics had given the film a positive review. The critic consensus reads: "Mouse Hunt gets trapped under the weight of its excessive slapstick antics." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale. Roger Ebert gave the film two stars, calling it "not very funny, and maybe couldn't have been very funny no matter what, because the pieces for comedy are not in place... A comedy that hasn't assigned sympathy to some characters and made others hateful cannot expect to get many laughs, because the audience doesn't know who to laugh at, or with." Though partner Gene Siskel liked the film.
Regarding the digital special effects, Ebert deemed the film "an excellent example of the way modern advances in special effects can sabotage a picture (Titanic is an example of effects being used wisely). Because it is possible to make a movie in which the mouse can do all sorts of clever things, the filmmakers have assumed incorrectly that it would be funny to see the mouse doing them."
Nonetheless, the film was a financial success. It was released on December 19, 1997, opening in North America at #4 and grossing $6,062,922 in its opening weekend, averaging about $2,817 from 2,152 theaters. In its second weekend, it stayed at #4 and increased by 60 percent, making $9,702,770, averaging about $4,428 from 2,191 theaters, and bringing its ten-day gross to $21,505,569. It closed on July 1, 1998, with a final gross of $61,917,389 in the North American market and $60,500,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $122,417,389. Its budget was $38 million. The film was released in the United Kingdom on April 3, 1998, and opened at #2, behind Titanic.
- Mouse Hunt (1997), retrieved 2020-05-23
- Ebert, Roger. "Mouse Hunt Movie Review & Film Summary (1997) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com.
- "Mouse Hunt (1997) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
- "Weekend box office 3rd April 1998 - 5th April 1998". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
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