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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Mouse Hunt (1997)



Reviews and Comments

This wild slapstick comedy suffers from one fatal flaw: it doesn't star actual characters. It's greatest strength is that it's often hilarious.

Where it needed characterization the most was in the character of the supremely-intelligent mouse that foils every attempt of the Smuntz brothers of restoring and selling a multi-million dollar house. The mouse doesn't talk -- a logical but, for Hollywood, wise move on the part of the screenwriters -- but there is only a single scene where he assumes a personality. It's an important scene to have, for it evokes our sympathy, but it's not enough to sustain the film. The Smuntz brothers are well cast (Nathan Lane and Lee Evans play the roles), and although the both of them are funny, their characters are mechanical stereotypes.

On the upside, this movie knows how to evoke laughs. With a couple exceptions -- lapses into tastelessness, shall we say -- the movie handles the slapstick comedy very well. Often a well-directed camera angle makes a funny visual gag out of what would have otherwise been routine. Better yet, there are moments of sheer ingenuity and an uproarious climax. There are also dozens of delightful finishing touches I appreciated -- the mouse's path through coffee mug handles, for instance, and a visual joke of a crying moose head. I particularly enjoyed the elaborate Smuntz string factory, with its wheels, gears, spools, and conveyor belts all churning and winding in uncertain harmony.

Because of its creative vision and comic sense, I enjoyed Mouse Hunt more than I probably should have. Call it a guilty pleasure.