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If ever there were a reincarnation of the king of comedy Jerry Lewis, *Lee Evans* is it. The pair could easily be related just by their similarity in looks alone, but it is their identical performance styles that Evans was born as the contemporary twin, bringing colgate comedy to the screen that had only really ever been assigned to radio shows in post war days.
1997 gave back audiences real slapstick tickle with Mouse Hunt, a low budget $38 million project that amassed a whopping $122,417,389 in total gross revenue! - proof enough that a great majority of film enthusiasts recall fond memories of the Laurel and Hardy time-machine, television broadcasting industries kept running these classic greats well after their acting days expired but still live in the minds of everyone they made a wide impression.
This Verbinski directed film is a nostalgic comedy act that would have sunk deep if it had made it to cinema in circa 1937, directly because we already had two of the most sucessful stand-up actors in the film business, rival twosome performers faced impossible competition unless they were as skilled as Charlie Chaplin or Norman Wisdom but they were an exception to the rule and a one man band. The combination of Lee Evans (there's something about Mary, Funny Bones) and Nathan Lane; voice-over for many Disney films, are a superb match, they were born to work together if this film is anything to go by!
Gregor Verbinski, or Gore as he is more famously addressed, is largely synonomous with his fabulous dire thriller, the ring and the action fantasy, The Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy, so his directing career is a mixed bag of genre, I am in such awe that he was in command of something so archive generated as Mouse Hunt when essentially it is revived filming material for someone of his generation, he created a unique masterpiece that is a two-tone talkie, people in their 90s will unforgettably remember when sound was first given to motion pictures as far back as 1928 - A world apart compared to Gore's 40 something life span!
However, the film opening scene witnesses the funeral of Rudolf Smuntz - catastrophe begins when the newly deceased man's sons get into a tussle about the colour of a suit - we make just a brief impression of current events, Verbinski builds on our expectations by eliminating them at this juncture of the film when suddenly silence breaks out as Lars (Lee Evans) manages to create a bombshell of a situation when accidently letting go of the coffin's handle: the weight of it places too much pressure on the other pallbearers that results in Pop tumbling down some stairs and catapulted several feet into the air only to land in a sewer. A fantastic beginning to something that rolls out the laughs as things move on. The duo, Ernie (Nathan Lane) and Lars Smuntz are left to operate and run the stale string factory as instructed by their father's will, neither of them have the passion nor drive to continue on with the business, they are individual entrepreneurs, Lars an unsucessful entertainer and Ernie a chef, both couldn't be more different from oneanother and why their on-screen personalities clash so complimentary - here they are most definitely a Laurel and Hardy reinactment!
Several doomed business opportunities await the brothers, Lars attempts to sell the string factory to break free of his father's legacy that has by now gone to ruin but his endevours come to nothing. Ernie is a celebrated cook who regularly serves Mayor McKinkle (Cliff Emmich) at his Chez Ernie restaurant, loses his trade after a cockroach accidently spawns offspring into the food, the Mayor suddenly dies later from a heart attack. Both are left jobless and homeless, so access all resources their father had left behind such as the deeds to a deserted frail mansion, the rest of the film then becomes all about this ill-fated property, occuppied by a slefish mouse bent on sabotaging the Smuntz brothers financial pursuit to auction it off. Amazingly, real mice can be trained to be smart if this film is anything to go by: it escapes all the traps laid down as well as performs acrobatic stunts to get to food and escapes capture, Lars and Ernie are driven to near insanity at just how astute their antgonist makes a mockery of their frustrations.
It's not a malevolent creature though, it snuggles like a baby in a self-made bed, surrounded by personal belongings in a home all of its own, stares longingly at a picture on the wall as if it were human with thoughts and feelings and only ever fights for survival, the scriptwriters clearly didn't want to make a thriller flick when this is also suitable for children to watch. Neither is it an animal rights activism stance, it only advocates the intention that places that remain empty, must find someone or something to occupy them and given that the mouse had long settled into the building, Lars and Ernie were the intruders that came to take it all away. From this perspective, we acknowledge what it is the writers and filming crew have set out to achieve: some things in life are far more important than success and wealth, something their father hadn't taught them - perhaps the mouse is the father reincarnated to positive effect?
If so, then he is brought back as noble mammal, its charming characteristics and similar human traits to survive, make it less of a threat and make the film as appealing as it is when Mice are considered to be companiable pets. The brother's love hate relationship with the occupant is hysterically funny when they realise that it cannot be outwitted nor destroyed: it becomes a continuation of the very same paralleled desperation they feel to severe all bonds with their father's legacy but circumstances backfire because of their confident greed and lack of humility. The lucky piece of string is thrown into the equasion as a symbol that all will inevitabley turn out well, though is a great teaser, the film encourages the audience to think more deeply about what it represents and how it relates to everything that is happening.
As a DreamWorks picture, Verbinski was privileged to have his film onboard this prestigious Speilberg, Katzenberg and Geffen (SKG) ship, a multibillion film studio industry that develops, produces, promotes and markets films, video games in particular. The SKG trio saw the potential of Verbinski's creation who incidentally contributed to the visual effects in his Pirates of the Caribbean works for which the film received five Oscars. Mousehunt didn't do anywhere near as well with just 2 nominations and 2 wins, yet profited massively from all the sales. Perhaps because of it's genre type, it may have succeeded far better under a different, more specialist film studio, experienced in modern splapstick drama?
The marvel of this film is that it betrays its colourful packaging - this only adds to its magical quality, even Laurel and Hardy films do the same thing. Personally, my preference is for classical comedy and why I find it appealing in a way I don't Pirates of the Carribbean or Shrek the third etc, they are definitely more child/family orientated wherease MouseHunt is this yet much more than this, you need to grow accustomed to the old gray and white talkies as earlier generations in order to appreciate the overall beauty of it that should have aquired at least one Oscar for its sheer inventiveness!
A world with string creates marvellous riches!
A Little Mouse!
Lars Smuntz: Lee Evans
Ernie Smuntz: Nathan Lane
Mousehunt is a film about two brothers who have inherited an old house from their father. They think the house isn't worth much - Wrong! The house is worth millions, but before they can get the money, they have to get rid of one tiny problem - A very clever little mouse!
One word: Brilliant!
Both Lee Evans and Nathan Lane shine in their performances as the two brothers. Their acting seems simple yet effective as they try to find new ways of how to get rid of this pesky little mouse! Their roles are extremely believable; the acting around the mouse is incredible as they join forces in order to expel him from the house.
The storyline is like 'Tom & Jerry'; except it's not a cat chasing a mouse, but two fully grown human brothers! It's a hilarious film, and the mouse is the centre of attention. The mouse finds millions of different little ways to successfully escape from the brothers' plans, much to their annoyance.
The special effects are amazing; the directors use a mixture of CGI and real mice in order to make it seem as realistic as possible. But hey, do you know a mouse that's as clever as this one? I certainly don't. This is where the CGI comes in handy, the mouse can do whatever the directors want it to; especially death-defying feats for a small creature!
I would definitely give this film a 10 out of 10. Watch it!
Mousehunt is a 1997 film directed by Gore Verbinski (now better-known for Pirates of the Caribbean) starring Nathan Lane and Lee Evans as two down-on-their-luck brothers whose fortunes take a turn when they realise they have inherited a large old house from their dead father. The house turns out to be worth far more than originally thought - but to sell it the brothers have to fight against an unexpected enemy - the little mouse who shares the house!
Watching this film is something of a Christmas tradition in my house. My brother got it on video one year (which shows how old we are!) and every year since then we have watched it while wrapping our Mam's presents to our Dad (this year though we have upgraded to DVD!). Having said that it is not specifically a Christmas film - it does have a bit of snow and it is set at Christmas time but the season doesn't play a big part, unlike Home Alone which is along the same lines.
I love this film and I think it is really underrated. Nathan Lane and Lee Evans as the brothers give great comedy performances and provide a good contrast - Lane as the ruthless business-orientated brother and Evans as the meeker brother who stayed in the family business and is trying to save his marriage. They demonstrate the need to put their differences aside and work together to achieve what they want! The real star of the film though is the little mouse - in the days before widespread use of CGI and quality special effects the way the mouse is filmed (using a combination of real mice and special effects) is pretty impressive. For something so small he has his own personality and you are left rather torn during the film - do you root for the brothers or the mouse?!
The film relies heavily on slapstick comedy, which can be very hit and miss but in this film works really well, and is very funny. The mousetrap scene is just one very clever, funny set-piece. Children will love it, but I defy adults not to laugh too - a great family film.
I just finished watching this movie,it's a great entertaining movie which touches your heart in the end.The title itself tells you what the story is mainly about.The main leads are played by Nathan Lanes,Lee Evans and of course the computer designed mouse.This is how the story goes Nathan Lanes and Lee Evans are brothers,their father dies and he leaves behind a factory and a big house for them,their father tells them not to sell the factory and pay off all the debt,Nathan Lane wants his brother to sell off the factory but Lee Evans does not want to do that,so they decide to auction the house and pay off all the money,they need to clear up all the house for the auction day but there is a big trouble in their way and you guessed right it's the mouse,they do everything to get rid of him,they place heaps and heaps of mouse traps,they shoot nails at him,bring a cat to get hold of him,get a special mouse catcher and even shoot bullets at him,but they are still not able to catch hold of him.Everything goes wrong during the auction day and the whole house gets destroyed because of the mouse,but in the end the mouse turns out to be their life saver and their factory comes on track as well,the movie has a very nice ending.The movie is very hilarious and there are some special effects in the movie as well.Both Nathan Lane and Lee Evans have done a great job.I will surely recommend you this movie.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Producers: Bart Brown, Bruce Cohen and Tony Ludwig.
Writer: Adam Rifkin.
Stars: Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, Christopher Walken and William Hickey
Another Dreamworks effort, released in late 1997, this rather strange comedy follows two people who inherit a near derelict house only to find an unwanted resident.
Lars Smuntz, (played by Lee Evens) and Ernie Smuntz, (played by Nathan Lane), a high flying chef, are two brothers who have inherited there fathers string business but are finding it difficult to keep the business running...
Apart from the business they also inherited other thing, such as a spoon collection, a ceramic egg and a near derelict mansion, with more debts than they can deal with...
Unfortunately, for Ernie, his restaurant is shut due to an unforeseen and rather disastrous incident involving a local mayor and a cockroach...
As the brothers lives change for the worst all they have left is the factory, which Ernie wants to sell to cover the debts of the mansion, much to the horror of Lars.
When the pair end up staying at the mansion they soon discover that the building holds more secrets than they first thought.. giving them the answers to their financial dilemmas....
But, unfortunately for them, one of the secrets is a rather clever, if very annoying little rodent who lives in the walls and floors... causing the brothers difficulties in selling the building to the highest bidders...
They soon realise that the rodent must be evicted before the auction day so as not to upset the bidders...
But this is not as easy as it sounds.... as they try everything from buying a very vicious feline to eat the mouse, hiring a professional rodent exterminator and even using explosives in a very amateurish way.... with devastating consequences....
Nathan Lane as Ernie Smuntz
Lee Evans as Lars Smuntz
Vicki Lewis as April Smuntz
William Hickey as Rudolf Smuntz
Maury Chaykin as Alex Falko
Michael Jeter as Quincy Thorpe
Ian Abercrombie as The Auctioneer
Eric Christmas as The Smuntz' Lawyer
Ernie Sabella as Maury, the Pound Caretaker
Alex Koch as Len, a photographer
Cliff Emmich as Mayor McKringle
Your typical slapstick comedy, (a sort of Home Alone Kevin McCallister meets Mickey Mouse's smarter brother ...) and is sure to entertain everyone in the audience...
With Lee Evens on board you know it is going to be very comical indeed... and it doesn't fail at all... he plays the part of the confused, if slightly weaker brother to perfection, his ability to create laughter out of nothing is remarkable...
I have to admit that the real star of this show is the mouse... considering what the poor little rodent is put through by the brothers, including a room full of at least two hundred mouse traps all set to explode at the slightest vibration... but the little guys 'mission impossible' style to evade the traps is hilarious...especially the outcome...
Although the 'special effects regarding the mouse are sometimes a little on the tacky side this does not spoil the movie at all as the comedy outweighs the tackiness by far... Seeing the mouse as near human with feelings and emotions...leaving a nice warm glow inside every time the mouse outwits the slightly daft and ever increasingly frustrated brothers...
In all, it is a great family movie and well worth the hour and a half viewing time as you will not be disappointed...
Would I recommend this...?
Yes I would...
It is one for the entire family, maybe for a quiet Sunday afternoon, and it may just keep the kids happy and entertained, (therefore peaceful to all)...
You can get a copy from www.amazon.co.uk for less than £4.00 so you can't go wrong really...
Mouse Hunt is the natural successor to films like 'Home Alone' with its use of manic comedy set pieces usually built around the continued suffering of some hapless adults. In this case the hapless adults are the Smuntz brothers but instead of being tortured by the antics of a small boy it is a mouse who seeks to defend his home.
There is a basic story. Set in the 1940s the brothers have lost their father and seen his legacy to them - a string factory - go into bankruptcy. The other part of their legacy is an old house which although in complete disrepair is a valuable example of a famous architects house building. The house could be worth $20million but there is the problem of the mouse.
There are many features which make this the perfect family film. Firstly there is the mouse who has the character similar to that of Kevin in Home Alone. He's cute, mischievous and clever. The film does have the audience building an affection for this little fellow. Next up there is Lee Evans as one of the brothers in his first starring screen role. Whatever you may think of Lee Evans and his somewhat limited comedy range he is perfect in this role. All manic gestures and comedy faces he is also pretty good actor. The film draws on many classic elements of the cinema and you could almost visualise this as a Laurel and Hardy film or possibly Lee Evans as a Norman Wisdom clone.
There are excellent supporting cameos in particular from Christopher Walken as a pest destroyer who gets outsmarted by the mouse. In many respects the film is like a cartoon brought to life and is filmed in a sepia glow which adds to the overall quality of the film. If you haven't already seen it get it out on video now.
When their father dies, brothers Lars and Ernie Smuntz (Nathan Lane and Lee Evans) inherit his prehistoric string making business and a dilapidated old mansion which time has forgotten. Feeling hard done by, their attitude soon changes when the discover that the dilapidated old mansion is in fact worth millions. But one thing stands in their way of cashing in and selling off the old building, a small mouse which has made it its home and seems intent on keeping it that way.
Great fun for all the family! - The Daily Mail, Laugh-a-minute mayhem. - Daily Star are just two of the accolades which adorn the back of this DVD and whilst it maybe a fun film as well as having a few laughs it is definitely not as good as these two newspapers make it out to be. With both feet firmly placed in the world of visual slapstick and pretty much mimicking the little guy taking on the bad guys scenario as per Home Alone, Mousehunt makes one very huge mistake. There are no bad guys making everyone the same and in doing so you are left wondering who you should be routing for, the little mouse or the Smuntz brothers. This huge mistake is sadly the downfall of this film and makes it just another, slightly below par family movie.
The film actually starts off well with the funeral of the brothers father, where after a mishap with the coffin we get treated to the sort of visual slapstick which dominates the film. Even after 20 minutes the film is still going strong providing slapstick which is on par with the greats such as Laurel and Hardy as well as a reasonable plot, but then things go badly wrong. Whilst the idea of pitting the brothers against the little rodent is amusing the fact that the writers have not decided who the good guys and bad guys are results in a lot of the humour failing because we are never cheering for either one. If you look at Home Alone when the two robbers get smashed in the face by a tin of paint it is funny because they deserve it. But in Mousehunt when the brothers get caught in their own mouse traps it fails to make you really laugh because they have done nothing really wrong. It also feels that after 20 minutes of setting up a reasonable storyline they have pretty much given up on it, resorting purely to visual slapstick to keep you entertained. I suppose this would be fine for younger viewers who may not require and real plot, but for an adult watching this with their children may find it becomes tedious and repetitive watching the Smuntz brothers fall foul of their own plans over and over again. In an attempt to bring the film to an end, a predictably happy one at that, the writers seem to devise a rather strange ending which you never see coming because through out the film they never build up to it. They have just devised this ending and plonked it on the end. Not that it is particularly bad but because there is never any clue to how they are going to it coming it seems rather contrived.
Whilst I am anything but a prude there was two aspects of this film which shocked me, seeing that it has a PG certificate and touted as a family film. First of which is hearing Lee Evans character shout out the word B@$t@rd, whilst this may not be the worst swear word in the world, it seemed very much out of place in this film and as it only occurred once it was even more noticeable as being rather strange. Secondly there is a scene where Ernies wife tries to seduce him dressed in only her underwear, then in the next scene Ernie tells Lars all about what they did. Again this baffled me as not only did it feel out of place in a family film but really had little to do with the story.
The only thing saving this from being a really misguided film is the performances from its two main stars and of course the little mouse. Having been a fan of Nathan Lane ever since watching him in the hilarious The Birdcage I am glad to say he doesnt disappoint. His character a failed chef who wants to make it big is not really that amazing, but Lane does his best with this rather simple character. The same can be said of Lee Evans, who seems to inject life into a character which otherwise seems to be pretty two dimensional. In some ways the pairing up of Lane and Evans is like bringing back Laurel and Hardy, with Lane being all bossy whilst Evans is all clumsy. In reality although the film has many other human characters, including a rodent catcher played by Christopher Walkern, the film is all about the brothers and the little mouse. Talking of which, the mouse is surprising good, and scenes where we watch him escape the brothers clutches are quite amusing. But sadly not everything works and a scene where we see him get chased into a piano by a vicious cat, a sort of real life Tom and Jerry, is sadly disappointing.
Whilst the plot and script may not be the greatest,director Gore Verbinski has done a reasonable job of keeping the film entertaining and maybe in the knowledge that what he was working with was not that great, he has put most of the films emphasis on the visual humour. Whilst not everything works as planned all the visual gags are impressive and the one which features a room full of mouse traps is probably one of the best. I wonder what Verbinski thinks of this film now seeing he is the man who directs the hugely superior Pirates of the Caribbean films.
>>>> Film Summary
So as a family film it is sort of okay, it is amusing with some good moments of visual humour but sadly down to the fact that they never give us the good guy, bad guy element is never manages to be gut bustingly funny. The saving grace of the film are the performances of Nathan Lane and Lee Evans who bring to life their predominantly flat characters and of course the mouse which is amazingly cute. Compared to films such as Home Alone it does feel quite inferior and with the inclusion of a swear word as well as references to sex I do question whether this is right for all families. But never the less, it is an okay comedy which having watched once will bring a smile to your face but will not ever need to be revisited.
>>>> Price & Availability
Amazon.co.uk: £10.00 (this is very high due to it no longer being in print)
>>>> Technical Details
Duration: 94 mins
Year of Release: 1997
Director(s): Gore Verbinski
Writer(s): Adam Rifkin
Cast: Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, Vicki Lewis, Maury Chaykin, Michael Jeter, Debra Christofferson, Ian Abercrombie, William Hickey, Christopher Walken
© Christianfilm June 2007
From first impressions, you could easily be forgiven for dismissing 'Mouse Hunt' as a simple kids movie. Certainly from the trailers, it looks very much like 'Home Alone' with a mouse - slapstick comedy all the way. But then again, movies do sometimes surprise us, exceed our expectations, and turn out to be so much better than anticipated. This is one of those movies. Out-of-luck brothers Ernie and Lars (Nathan Lane and Lee Evans) inherit a dilapidated old house and the family string factory when their father passes away. After discovering the house may actually be worth a fortune, they embark on a refurbishment before going to auction. The only thing standing in their way is an inventive little mouse who doesn't want anyone disturbing his home, let alone these two bumbling idiots. And so, the game is afoot. Where this film differs from the comparisons with 'Home Alone' is that this is most definitely a black comedy. Firstly, and perhaps most interestingly, there are no real heroes and villains to the story -unlike the two burglars in John Hughes' comedy, the brothers do evoke sympathy from the audience, but then again, so does the mouse. At times, we're actually rooting for both parties, and this is undoubtedly thanks to the lead actors. Ernie is the more intelligent of the two characters, and Lane plays off well against the wackier Evans. Their obsession with catching the mouse is drawn out a little too far, but as it's essentially the only plot to the film, it's only to be expected. The mouse itself is a brilliant creation, brought to the screen using a combination of real mice, computer effects and animatronics. The rest of the acting parts are reasonably small, but do look out for Christopher Walken, who's brought in as an expert exterminator and almost steals the show. Apart from the acting though, the style of the film is also quite different to your usual family entertainment. A lot o
f it is filmed in a fairly bleak manner, with the interiors of the house given a dark atmosphere similar in approach to Gilliam or even Burton. Then, there's the quirkiness that could be compared to the Coen brothers' work, in particular 'Raising Arizona' and 'The Hudsucker Proxy'. The biggest influence, though, is surely from the classic comedies of Laurel and Hardy - many of the set pieces and plenty of the visual humour wouldn't look out of place in one of their movies. In fact, I'm sure the scene in which Lane waits on a park bench opposite two young women is a direct homage to a scene with Oliver Hardy. I just can't remember the film! Believe it or not, there are even serious messages hidden behind the visual gags and 'kids movie' façade. When greed and selfishness are the motivation for the protagonists, they are doomed to failure at the hands (paws?) of the mouse, but following their father's advice and continuing the family business may bring greater rewards than they think. There's a nice quote in the very last scene which underlines this further, with the metaphor of the piece of string nicely brought to a conclusion. However, there are problems with 'Mouse Hunt'. Not all of the jokes work, and there's only so much humour to be had in slapstick before it begins to grate. There's also a rather cheesy ending. Of course, children will enjoy this side of the film more than the adults, but do note the PG certificate - some aspects might not be entirely suitable for the very young. There are some sexual references, and quite a lot of violence (albeit comic book in style), but nothing major. I guess this is one of the hardest types of films to make - aiming at both adults and children - and while 'Mouse Hunt' certainly isn't perfect, it definitely makes a worthy attempt.
The territorial Battle Between human and mouse has been a long and bitter war, seeing many casualties along the way. Mouse Hunt is a fun, family comedy that celebrates this long-standing tradition in style. Nathan Lane and Lee Evans play Ernie and Lars Smuntz, hopeless brothers who have just buried their string magnate father. Actually, the company is a museum piece, and there’s no money to pay the workers. Among the Smuntz’s otherwise meagre inheritance is a run-down house, which is handy as Lars gets kicked out by the missus and Ernie loses his restaurant after the mayor chokes on a cockroach. The good news is that the house turns out to be the missing masterpiece of a famous architect, and the boys arrange an auction to sell to the highest bidder. The bad news? There’s a cunning mouse squatting in the wainscoting, and he ain’t packing his bags without a fight. Mouse Hunt is a curious film. On the one hand it has the brutal cartoony elements of a Home Alone movie, but is tinged with pathos and a surprisingly dark heart that gives t a draw for the adults while the kids are giggling away at how funny Lee Evans is. Evans and Lane are a likeable duo, but Evans is the movie’s heart- he refuses to sell the factory to a conglomerate, doing good by his father’s memory, while Lane is the dark half, motivated by a desire for the good life. Together they gel, and it’s a surprise they haven’t teamed up again since It’s all set-pieces: the boys enlist the aid of a homicidal kitty, Catzilla, but the mouse runs rings around him in a sequence that recalls the classic elements of every Tom and Jerry cartoon. And Christopher Walken’s cameo as a pest exterminator is a joy. And what of the mouse? He’s the true star of the show, and you’ll spend much of the movie going ‘Ah Bless!’ When it comes down to it, I’m rooting for the little guy, and it’
s impossible to see where the join is – is it a real mouse, or is it a deft CGI effect Where Mouse Hunt falls down is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be – black comedy or slapstick romp – and that gives it a slightly schizophrenic feel that some people might not get. Otherwise highly entertaining.
What might have been a one-note family comedy becomes something more thanks to the comic brilliance of co-stars Nathan Lane and Lee Evans, as well as the distinctive, dark-fable look given the film by a little-known director named Gore Verbinksi (could he be the next Tim Burton?). Lane and Evans play idiotic brothers who inherit a house and all but destroy it in pursuit of one small, pesky mouse. The guys are always the butt of the sight gags--most of which are very funny--but their considerable powers as slapstick artists are also at play. The climactic scene at an auction was the funniest scene in any American movie in 1997, the year of Mouse Hunt's release. --Tom Keogh