Movie Magazine International

Mouse Hunt

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

"Mouse Hunt" is a handsomely mounted live-action cartoon that is deadly serious about being silly. It's bursting with intricately plotted, exquisitely timed sight gags and some of the best live action cartoons working today: Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, William Hickey and Christopher Walken.

Lane and Evans play Ernie and Lars Smuntz, the squabbling heirs to a Rube Goldberg-style string factory. After the unfortunate demise and even more unfortunate burial of their father, they also become heirs to a ramshackle mansion designed by a famous, if loony, nineteenth-century architect. When their luck goes south, the Smuntz brothers decide to fix up the house and sell it for millions.

Unfortunately for them, there's another interested party and though he may be a mouse, he's got squatter's rights, plus he's cuter and smarter than all the Smuntzs put together. The film is one bungled Smuntz brothers attempt after another to kill the mouse and the mouse one upping them with a flair worthy of Machiavelli. My favorite ploy involved wall-to-wall mousetraps and a flying cherry. There's no doubt that this mouse, adorably played by a crack team of trained rodents and one puppet, could take out the Smuntzs in the twitch of a whisker, but he's having too much fun toying with them. I laughed a lot.

Evan's Lars is a sweetly innocent man-child with a heart full of goodwill and a head full of air. He shows off his skill as a physical comedian in a tour de force dance of death with his factory's string making apparatus. Lane's Ernie is a wise-cracking gourmet chef who, contemplating food with deadly force, can finesse whimsy and menace into the line "Bring me my Gouda." That same finesse makes slow burns and double-takes look like new inventions.

Christopher Walken checks in as a psychotically obsessed exterminator and William Hickey, in his last performance, does his patented whacked-out senior citizen with intriguing verbal skills.

"Mouse Hunt" may be too violent for younger kids, but it does have a sweet moral about working and playing well with others for balance and some of the best and most meticulous slapstick since Mack Sennett and Buster Keaton.

© 1998 - Andrea Chase - Air Date: 12/24/97

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