Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The first big family film from Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks studio stars Nathan Lane and British comedian Lee Evans as estranged brothers who are reunited when their father dies, leaving them a run-down house as part of their inheritance. The pair soon learns that the house is a lost architectural masterpiece, but their attempts to auction it off are thwarted by a pesky, brilliant, territorial mouse. On paper, it sounds like a dreadfully contrived bit of high-concept crap: Home Alone with a mouse. And while there is a limit to how good a film about a feisty mouse can be, Mouse Hunt is far better than you'd expect. Despite its intelligence-insulting premise, Mouse Hunt is a well-crafted, surprisingly smart film that benefits tremendously from the winning chemistry between Lane and talented newcomer Evans, as well as beautifully Gothic set designs and a periodically clever, inventive script by would-be cult filmmaker Adam Rifkin (The Invisible Maniac, The Nutt House a.k.a. The Nutty Nutt). It's hardly a masterpiece, of course, and much of the slapstick quickly grows tiresome, but at its best, Mouse Hunt's baroque, Dickensian universe recalls Nicholas Roeg's terrific, underrated, and similarly mouse-centric Roald Dahl adaptation The Witches. And for a movie in the notoriously sadistic kiddie-slapstick genre, it's surprisingly humanistic, refusing to villainize either the brothers or the spunky little mouse.