Two stumblebum inheritors are determined to rid their antique house of a mouse who is equally determined to stay where he is.Two stumblebum inheritors are determined to rid their antique house of a mouse who is equally determined to stay where he is.Two stumblebum inheritors are determined to rid their antique house of a mouse who is equally determined to stay where he is.
And honestly, that's kind of a shame. Because despite some minor flaws and an overly simplistic high-concept hook, "Mousehunt" remains a pretty charming and well-accomplished comedic tale that appeals to both kids and adults alike with its broad humor and oddly dark tone. Starring the delightful comedic geniuses Nathan Lane and Lee Evans, the story of two down-on-their-luck brothers trying to deal with a rodent infestation in the mansion they've inherited is an appealing and well-made release. It still brings the chuckles and belly-laughs two decades later... though in retrospect, it might be a little too extreme for particularly young children.
Following the death of their businessman father Rudolf (William Hickey), brothers Ernie (Nathan Lane) and Lars (Lee Evans) are both forced to stay at the run-down old mansion that was left to them. Soon after, they discover documents inside and realize that it was one of the final houses designed and built by the world famous architect Charles LaRue, and that it could be worth millions with proper restoration. However... there's a catch. A single mouse inhabits the house, and the brother decide that they must eliminate it at all costs in their effort to turn a quick buck from the property. But it won't be an easy task, as the two quickly realize that this isn't just any mouse...
The film's strength lies in the charming lead performances and the absolutely manic and highly cartoonish comedy, brought to life with Verbinski's trademark dark and stylish visual direction. Lane and Evans light up the screen, and their chemistry is just perfect, with both men given their fair shot to shine from scene to scene. They really do compare well with the classic comedy duos of yesteryear, and its too bad we thus far haven't really seen them together on screen since. Supporting roles by the likes of Hickey, Vicki Lewis and Camilla Søeberg are also quite good, and everyone really gets into the right mood and mindset of the film. And of course, special praise goes to the legendary Christopher Walken in a scene-stealing supporting role. I won't spoil it, but you can tell Walken is having an absolute blast with the film.
The comedy of the film is absolutely awe-inspiring, comprised of both broad and completely whacked-out slapstick for the kids and some truly twisted and subtle dark laughs for the adults. There really is something for everyone with the humor in "Mousehunt", and its made all the better thanks to director Verbinski's keen eye. I've always been a big fan of his work, and his style lends itself well to the material. His films always have a very gritty, Gothic and over-stylized "hyper-reality" to them, and he is able to deliver the laughs and even the occasional gasp with glee and gusto.
However, there is a certain trade-off that comes as the result of this, and I do feel the need to warn parents... this movie might be too much for particularly young children. While I won't spoil anything about the plot or story, I will comment that many of the darker gags and jokes deal with content that might scare children under ten or at very least leave them feeling uneasy. This includes jokes involving death and property destruction, a hilarious but genuinely disturbing background gag involving a young girl's pet being put to sleep and some overt innuendos and suggestive sight- gags. If you're not sure, I'd say watch the movie first and decide for yourself. And I'm really only bringing this up because the case for the DVD is significantly more bright and "cutesy" than the film itself.
"Mousehunt" isn't a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. The concept and characters are simplistic and it's sometimes a bit confused in terms of tone. But that doesn't stop it from being just a ton of fun and a completely enjoyable experience for both kids and adults. The cast is great, the titular mouse is adorable, the comedy is laugh-out-loud funny, and the stylish direction is just fantastic. And so, I give it a very good 8 out of 10 and would recommend it to most audiences. It's a criminally underrated comedic gem that deserves far more recognition than it receives.
- Oct 12, 2017