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Mouse Hunt

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Mouse Hunt

Starring: Nathan Lane, Lee Evans
Director: Gore Verbinski
Rated: PG
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: December 1997
Genres: Comedy, Family, Kids

*Also starring: Vicki Lewis, Eric Christmas, Michael Jeter, Debra Christofferson, Camilla Soeberg, William Hickey, Christopher Walken

Review by David Wilcock
1½ stars out of 4

After the mediocre The Peacemaker (1997) and the interesting if dull Amistad (1997) Dreamworks tries again to have a hit with this children's movie. They haven't got a hit on their hands, but Mouse Hunt is entertaining enough to keep the kids happy. Nathan Lane and Lee Evans play brothers Ernie and Lars Smuntz, who inherit a string factory, and a very spooky old house, from father Rudolph (William Hickey.) They discover that the house is built by a famous architect, and could receive $10 million if they manage to sell it. However, one thing stands between vast wealth: a tiny mouse. But the chaos it causes is unbelievable, and the film centres around the two brothers trying desperately to get rid of the furry pest. What Dreamworks have churned out is standard slapstick fare, although much more visually pleasing and darker than most 'Home Alone' type movies. The house looks really spooky, and really cool. The special effects are also good, with the mouse looking pretty realistic in the CGI shots. Also, the wide spread destruction is done well by CGI, and there's a hilarious animatronic cat, called 'Catzilla' who really is a terrifying beast (almost too scary for the child sitting next to me in the theater.) The sets are excellent, with some great art direction, and good cinematography by Phedon Papamichael. The house and effects, though, were too intense for some children in the theater (not a good sign for a 'kiddies' film) although most of them could handle it. Complementing the comic effects perfectly are Lane and Evans, doing a grand job working with the effects. Lane is good as the straight man, delivering lines with perfect timing ("It's Hitler with a tail", he tells Evans on why they should kill this mouse.) Also, Evans (a popular british comic) is perfect with physical humour (the filmmakers were probably looking for a cheap Jim Carrey-a like), and the scene where his clothes get caught in the string factory machinery is slapstick genius. Christopher Walken makes an appearance as a near psychotic bug exterminator, and is good fun. The director, Gore Verbinski, graduating from commercials, fills the screen with superb visual, and handles the slapstick really well. (The funeral at the start is brilliant slapstick.)

But, beneath all the comedy, this is one dark movie. There is hardly any light, it's almost continually raining, the house is spectacularly forbidding, and some of the scenes (a man choking, then dying, on a cockroach, the aforementioned Catzilla scene) could be a bit much for children. Also, some of the jokes fall flat, and it even resorts to having Lane and Evans just hit each other with frying pans. There are some standout scenes (a chase inside a piano is genius), but generally, the visual are aimed for adults, while the jokes are aimed for children. And there are definitely not enough jokes for adults (unlike recent Disney films, which try too hard to appeal to adults now-a-days.) In the end, though, Mouse Hunt is enjoyable enough for kids, and should have them laughing. Adults, though, should just sit back and enjoy the scenery. Entertaining, but flawed and shallow.

Copyright 1998 David Wilcock

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