Mouse Hunt. Dir. Gore Verbinski. Dreamworks. 1997.

Mouse Hunt. Dir. Gore Verbinski. Dreamworks. 1997.

Mouse Hunt. Dir. Gore Verbinski. Dreamworks. 1997. 150 150 Alanna Sachse

Mouse Hunt is the story of two brothers, Ernie and Lars, who, following the death of their father, go through many financial setbacks. Ernie loses his restaurant due to a cockroach that he accidently brings there with a box of cigars he got from his father’s last possessions. The cockroach ends up being eaten by the mayor who has a heart attack. Lars’ wife kicks him out of the house because he is no longer the son of a wealthy businessman but the owner of a failing company. The brothers inherit their father’s string factory that is going out of business due to string being less popular. Lars refuses to sell so the brothers end up staying the night at the other property left by their father when they have nowhere else to stay. The old decaying house is already occupied by a small mouse and upon looking for it in the attic, they find that the house is also the missing house designed by the famous architect Charles Lyle LaRue. This makes the house very valuable and sought after by a collector of LaRue, Alexander Falko. Ernie declines his offer, seeing the house as a way to regain respect and money, deciding that he and Lars will restore the house and put it up for auction to gain more profit from it. As the brothers begin work on the house, they have many encounters and failed attempts at catching the mouse that lives there. As the story progresses it is clear that it is no ordinary mouse.

By the end of the movie at the auction the brothers think they have finally bested the mouse only to have it return and in their hast to get rid of it before anyone sees it, end up destroying the house. Having failed to make money and seeing that thing could not get any worse, they take refuge at the string factory. There the mouse follows them and gives them inspiration to get the factory on the right track again, string cheese. The movie ends with Ernie cooking high quality cheese and getting feedback from the mouse with Lars mainly running the factory.

While watching the movie it is easy to just conclude that it is slapstick style comedy, but it also shows how much people can grow from being in bad situations. The mouse throughout the movie seems to just be a highly intelligent mouse that is only making trouble for the brothers. He can also be seen as the embodiment of all the obstacles Ernie and Lars face in the movie as a whole. The mouse is constantly coming back to challenge them  but by the end is actually what helps them move forward and create better lives for themselves as well as give the brothers a better relationship. At one point in the movie their conflict between the brothers is further explained when they are discussing their father and the string factory,

“Ernie: [to Lars] Come on. You loved string!

Lars: I didn’t love string!

Ernie: Well, you could have fooled me! You and Pop were always huddled together running some piece of something through your fingers. It didn’t matter what I did. I didn’t even exist! I made him my special rack of lamb for his 70th birthday…I slaved over that meal, making sure everything was perfect. Did he say, “Thanks, Ernie, it was delicious”? No. He only noticed the string I had tied it with”

The brothers are constantly bickering, mainly started by Ernie, and they never attempt to understand each other. Here it is shown that Ernie felt left out and underappreciated by his family. Lars on the other hand felt a need to always please his father, as well as everyone else, and didn’t really give much thought as to what he wanted. Though it is more indirectly, the mouse forces them to confront their feelings and each other by placing them in stressful conditions were they inevitably talk, or rather yelling at one point after it was discovered they both had kept the potential of selling the factory a secret from each other. In this scene, many of their issues with one another are brought to light and they actually end up so angry that Lars throws an orange stunning the mouse. Their anger forgotten they focus on the mutual feelings of dislike towards the mouse. Although getting their feelings of resentment towards each other is cut short, by the mouse it can be speculated that they have accepted more of who each other is since they are working together by the movies conclusion.

The more interesting thing about the film is how ranged the reception of it was. Many critics enjoyed the film and recommended it while others said that “the plot is so unoriginal and the laughs so shallow that I doubt any adult could enjoy ‘Mouse hunt'” (Rettig). The mixed reviews are mainly due to the fact that it is advertised mainly as a children’s movie. Just because there is a cute mouse doesn’t negate the crude and suggestive language and inappropriate behavior. Other reviews focused on how relevant the mouse was to the movie saying, “I believe a mouse can be trained to pick up an olive and run with it, but I don’t believe it’s funny. Not unless I know the mouse” (Ebert). This is a poor representation of what the animal is throughout the movie but is not hard to see why this would come as a negative review.  Some scenes with the mouse don’t enhance the plot but are more of plot fillers when things get slow.

Another views on animals in the film is the way animal based products are being presented, the only one that shows up in the film is cheese. In the main part of the film, cheese is presented as a type of entrapment, for example when the brothers are setting up a mouse trap with Gouda as bait. Little do they realize that the mouse has stolen the entire wheel of cheese rather than falling for their simple trap. The brothers don’t even notice that the large cheese product is gone.      

At the end of the movie, cheese is look at as more of a way to earn profit. The mouse is no longer stealing cheese but helping Ernie make good cheese products for the factory. With this, the mouse communicates with Ernie at the end of the movie mostly thought body language; when Ernie gives him a piece of cheese to test he spits it out, and he looks pleased with the one he liked. There isn’t so much of a gaze rather just some mutual understanding through body cues.

Works Cited

Rettig, Dave. “Mousehunt.” (1997) …review And/or Viewer Comments • Christian Spotlight on the Movies • ChristianAnswers.Net. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

Ebert, Roger. “Mouse Hunt Movie Review & Film Summary (1997) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. N.p., 19 Dec. 1997. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.