'90s Movie Month! "Mousehunt" Review

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'90s Movie Month! "Mousehunt" Review

Rating: PG (Language, comic sensuality, and mayhem)
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: Dec. 19, 1997
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Genre: Comedy, Family

In "Mousehunt," comedy veterans Nathan Lane and Lee Evans portray two brothers who stumble into the inheritance of their father's massive but rundown mansion and the string factory that supported the family. The brothers, Ernie and Lars, are remarkably incapable of salvaging the family name and fortune, and Lars is thrown out of his home by his wife April for refusing a lucrative offer to buy the property.

The film, set in the mid-'70s, has a decidedly vintage feel and plenty of slapstick comedy, making it a truly unique viewing experience. Lars and Ernie have a hilariously antagonistic relationship that leads to plenty of comedic blunders reminiscent of "The Three Stooges." The central conflict of the story begins when Ernie, a gourmet chef, serves the mayor a dish that contains a cockroach. The mayor chokes on the roach and dies in the restaurant, causing Ernie to lose everything, including his job. With nothing left but their father's property and the factory, the brothers reunite and attempt to make the most of what they have left, figuring their lives have nowhere to go but up.

Deciding to live in their father's mansion, Ernie and Lars discover a set of blueprints that suggest the mansion was actually built by world-famous architect Charles Lyle LaRue. A LaRue aficionado contacts the brothers and offers to buy the property, but they once again refuse the offer, determined to make more money on their own. Unfortunately for the brothers, the bank is only days away from foreclosing on the property, cutting short the time they have to make renovations and turn a profit at auction. In the midst of preparing the worn-out mansion for auction, the brothers discover that they are not the only residents of the property.

A small mouse causes more than its fair share of chaos, thwarting the Smuntz brothers' efforts to restore their father's property at every turn. Even an over-the-top exterminator played by the legendary Christopher Walken is incapable of stopping this furry resident from destroying their efforts and preventing the sale of the home. These comedic bits set "Mousehunt" apart from its contemporaries, making the film a truly enjoyable and hilarious masterpiece. In the midst of all the drama, Lars' conniving wife returns to help the brothers get the home ready for auction, hoping to take a chunk of their sizeable profits before she divorces him. Lars and Ernie offer up their fair share of deception as well, each attempting to con the other out of his rightful inheritance at various points. The self-interested brothers must learn to work together if they are ever going to succeed at turning their dilapidated inheritance into a solid investment.

Nathan Lane and Lee Evans make "Mousehunt" what it is, a delightful comedy that will have audiences' sides splitting with uproarious laughter. The mouse, while not a central character, moves the plot along with its mischievous antics. While the Smuntz brothers think they are the ones hunting the mouse, it becomes clear over the course of the film that they are the ones constantly falling into traps. The brothers make mistake after mistake, but things finally start looking up towards the end of the film only for the Smuntzes to discover that the mouse has thwarted them once again. Everything is not as it seems, and what the brothers believe is their greatest nuisance may prove to be a gift from their late father that saves them from impending financial doom.

"Mousehunt" is a truly unique comedy that plays on hilarious tropes and time-tested gags but also brings enough novel surprises and twists to keep things fresh throughout the entire film. The comedic timing of Lane and Evans is pitch-perfect, and a star-studded supporting cast makes this film a cut above the rest in its genre. Cameos by comedic veterans such as Walken are the icing on the cake, but the central story of the two bumbling brothers alone is enough to make this witty film an instant classic.

"Mousehunt" is a breath of fresh air for fans of irreverent nostalgic comedies. The film is a comedy classic for good reason, striking just the right balance between intelligent humor and slapstick moments. Lane and Evans are the perfect dynamic duo for this film that delivers on laughs without taking itself too seriously. The end of the film justifies all the hilarious antics and challenges the Smuntz brothers face and holds a shocking but perfect twist that will leave audiences grinning.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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