Mouse Hunt

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Mouse Hunt
Mouse hunt ver4.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGore Verbinski
Produced by
Written byAdam Rifkin
Music byAlan Silvestri
CinematographyPhedon Papamichael
Edited byCraig Wood
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release date
  • December 19, 1997 (1997-12-19) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$38 million
Box office$122.4 million

Mouse Hunt is a 1997 American slapstick black comedy film written by Adam Rifkin and directed by Gore Verbinski in his directorial debut. It stars Nathan Lane and Lee Evans, Maury Chaykin, and Christopher Walken. The film follows two Laurel and Hardy-like brothers in their struggle against one small but crafty house mouse for possession of a mansion which was willed to them by their father. While the film is set in the late 20th century, styles range humorously from the 1940s to the 1990s. It was the first family film to be released by DreamWorks Pictures, who released it in the United States on December 19, 1997.

This was one of William Hickey's final roles before he died and the film is dedicated in memory of him.


Once-wealthy string magnate Rudolf Smuntz dies, and he leaves his factory and an abandoned Victorian mansion to his two sons; the well-meaning and optimistic Lars, and venal cynic Ernie, who has ignored the family business to become a chef. When Lars refuses a buyout from a cord company called Zeppco International, his gold digger wife April kicks him out. Meanwhile, at Ernie's restaurant, Mayor McKrinkle is dining and accidentally eats the head of a cockroach that came from Rudolf's half-smoked box of Cuban cigars that Ernie took for himself, and the restaurant closes down. Shortly after, the mayor dies of cardiac arrest and Ernie starts working at a diner.

With nowhere else to go, the brothers move into the mansion. They find blueprints of the house, discovering that the property was the final design of famed architect Charles Lyle LaRue, finished in 1876, and would be worth a fortune if properly restored. Ernie and Lars decide to restore the property and auction it to recover their lives. However, they have already discovered that the house has one stubborn occupant: a tiny and treacherous mouse. Lars is initially dismissive of the mouse, but Ernie, fearing a repeat of the cockroach incident, convinces Lars they need to get rid of the rodent. Conventional methods to get rid of the highly intelligent mouse fail as it repeatedly outwits the brothers. They resort to increasingly drastic methods to remove the mouse, including buying a psychotic monstrous Maine Coon cat named "Catzilla", whom the mouse drops down a dumbwaiter to his death, and then hiring an eccentric exterminator, Caesar, who is ultimately dragged out of the house by the mouse using his truck's winch, causing massive destruction to the floors and destroying the plumbing. To make matters worse, Ernie borrows $1,200 against the house's mortgage to buy a Jacuzzi tub, which the brothers lose to the bottom of a nearby lake after being startled by the mouse, and the bank informs them that they will be evicted in two days, unless they reimburse the money. Because of their inability to pay the string factory's workers, the workers go on strike.

Ernie learns about Zeppco's offer to buy the factory and secretly plans to accept the deal. Lars' attempt to run the factory alone ends in disaster when his clothes get snagged onto several machines, stripping him completely naked except his shoes and socks. After that, he is met by April who learned about the house's worth from the brothers' lawyer and takes him back. Ernie's attempt to meet with Zeppco's representatives fails when he is hit by a bus while trying to impress two Belgian hair models, Ingrid and Hilde. Lars informs him that April has given them the money to pay off the mortgage.

When the brothers return to the house to find Caesar being taken away by paramedics, they continue to hunt the mouse with renewed obsession. Ernie chases the mouse up the chimney, but the mouse starts a gas leak, creating a violent explosion that blasts Ernie out of the house and Lars into a china cabinet. Enraged, Ernie grabs a shotgun and fires at the mouse, but accidentally blows a massive hole in the floor by shooting the bug bomb that Caesar had dropped. As the brothers recover from the blast, Zeppco calls and leaves a message, stating that since Ernie never showed up for the meeting and Lars declined their offer to buy the factory, they have taken back their proposal. Angry at each other for the deceptions, the brothers get into a heated argument, and Lars throws an orange at Ernie, which hits and stuns the mouse. When the two cannot bring themselves to finish the mouse, they seal it in a box addressed to Fidel Castro. The brothers reconcile and finish their renovations. The night of the auction, however, Lars discovers the mouse's box was returned due to insufficient postage and with a hole gnawed out of it (as Lars forgot to weigh the package). As the auction progresses, the mouse wreaks havoc. In desperation, the brothers attempt to flush out the mouse by feeding a garden hose into the wall, but Lars accidentally breaks the spigot off, causing the inner walls to fill, collapsing a wall in the room in which the auction is taking place, and flushing out them and the buyers. The house collapses as the buyers flee. April leaves Lars for good for a particularly rich and older bidder, and the brothers take solace in the assurance that the mouse must have perished in the collapse.

The brothers spend the night in the factory, unaware the mouse has survived and followed them. Witnessing their sorry state, the mouse takes pity on the brothers and decides to help them out by activating the factory's machinery and dropping a large slice of cheese from a wheel into the wax-fiber boiler, producing a ball of string cheese, which the brothers discover. Inspired, the brothers end their war with the mouse and renovate the factory, retrofitting the entire factory to facilitate the manufacturing of cheese-based products. Lars runs the factory and has begun a relationship with Hilde, Ernie becomes the head chef, and the mouse becomes their quality control taste-tester for new cheese combinations.



Mouse Hunt was released in North America on December 19, 1997, then in the United Kingdom on April 3, 1998.[1]

Home media[edit]

Mouse Hunt was released on VHS and DVD on December 8, 1998 by DreamWorks Home Entertainment.[2] The DVD release has had two reprints on April 25, 2017[3] keeping the same close captioning and subtitles by Captions, Inc. as from its original home video release and January 9, 2018.[4] It was released on Blu-ray on February 2, 2021 by Paramount Home Entertainment.[5]


Mouse Hunt received mixed reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 42% of 31 critics had given the film a positive review. The critic consensus reads: "Mouse Hunt gets trapped under the weight of its excessive slapstick antics."[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale. Roger Ebert gave the film two stars, calling it "not very funny, and maybe couldn't have been very funny no matter what, because the pieces for comedy are not in place... A comedy that hasn't assigned sympathy to some characters and made others hateful cannot expect to get many laughs, because the audience doesn't know who to laugh at, or with." Though partner Gene Siskel liked the film.

Regarding the digital special effects, Ebert deemed the film "an excellent example of the way modern advances in special effects can sabotage a picture (Titanic is an example of effects being used wisely). Because it is possible to make a movie in which the mouse can do all sorts of clever things, the filmmakers have assumed incorrectly that it would be funny to see the mouse doing them."[7]

Nonetheless, the film was a financial success. It was released on December 19, 1997, opening in North America at #4 and grossing $6,062,922 in its opening weekend, averaging about $2,817 from 2,152 theaters. In its second weekend, it stayed at #4 and increased by 60 percent, making $9,702,770, averaging about $4,428 from 2,191 theaters, and bringing its ten-day gross to $21,505,569.[8] It closed on July 1, 1998, with a final gross of $61,917,389 in the North American market and $60,500,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $122,417,389. Its budget was $38 million. The film was released in the United Kingdom on April 3, 1998, and opened at #2, behind Titanic.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mousehunt". Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  2. ^ Retrieved 2021-01-19. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Retrieved 2021-01-19. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Retrieved 2021-01-19. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Retrieved 2021-01-19. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Mouse Hunt (1997), retrieved 2020-05-23
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Mouse Hunt Movie Review & Film Summary (1997) - Roger Ebert".
  8. ^ "Mouse Hunt (1997) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  9. ^ "Weekend box office 3rd April 1998 - 5th April 1998". Retrieved 10 September 2017.

External links[edit]