July 8, 2020
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the NC title sequence)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. Hard to believe a little over 25 years ago, DreamWorks was officially created.
(The "DreamWorks SKG" logo is shown)
NC (vo): There was good buzz around it, as it was founded by powerhouses...
(Shots of the founders of the company (the "SKG" in the name) are shown: Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen)
NC (vo): ...Spielberg, Katzenberg and that third one, but it wasn't until three years later that films were finally being put out.
(Posters for the first three DreamWorks movies are shown, The Peacemaker, Amistad, and this video's topic, Mouse Hunt)
NC (vo): The first was an action film with George Clooney and Nicole Kidman, the second an Oscar drama directed by Spielberg, and the third was a kids' movie, directed by Tim Burton with (An image of a box of Crayola crayons is superimposed, all green, with a label on it reading: "DAVID FINCHER CRAYONS") David Fincher's Crayons...
(Cut to a shot of...)
NC (vo): ...Gore Verbinski. How was it?
NC: Um... (looks around shiftily) Very Gore Verbinski. (nods awkwardly)
(The title for Mouse Hunt is shown, followed by footage of the movie)
NC (vo): Mouse Hunt was a surprise hit at the box office, pulling in over $120 million internationally against a $38 million budget. It was a surprise not because a family film grabbed children's attention with a December release – that's pretty common – but because audiences didn't seem to know what to make of it. It was very ugly-looking, but advertised as bright and colorful. It had a lot of slapstick, though some very uncomfortable moments, too.
(The Rotten Tomatoes page for this movie is shown, showing that it received a score of 42% on the Tomotometer)
NC (vo): While critics weren't that enthusiastic, audiences... (The audience score is now shown as well, showing that Mouse Hunt received a score of 49% on the Audience Score) ...were a little less not enthusiastic. To this day, whenever I bring the film up, most people don't really know how to react to it. Well, that's why I'm here: to verbalize your thoughts on this movie and shame you if you, in any way, disagree.
(A promo image for The Mandalorian is shown, but with the heads of Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel and Gene Shalit)
NC (vo): This is the way. So let's go back to more innocent times, before a Verbinski family production meant...
(Cut to a clip of the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, showing a young boy about to be hanged)
NC (vo): ...hanging little boys in the first few minutes.
(The boy is finally hanged)
NC: Class. This is Mouse Hunt.
NC (vo): The film opens with a profound quote...
(...which reads: "'A world without string is chaos.' -Rudolf Smuntz")
NC: I mean, we were all thinking it, but finally, somebody said it!
(The film begins with a funeral in progress. It is a rainy day, and people congregate outside the church, waiting for the pallbearers to bring out the coffin)
NC (vo): We start off with a funeral, so again, (The hanging scene from Pirates is superimposed a second time) not a huge difference to how he gets things going...as it looks like Rudolf Smuntz is the man who died. He's played by William Hickey. In fact, this is the last film he ever worked on. And boy, do they know how to pay a man proper respect!
(One of the handles of the coffin breaks off and the pallbearers accidentally drop the coffin, which slides down the steps of the church)
Pallbearer: I'm sorry!
(The coffin crashes into the side of one of the parked cars, throwing the coffin forward and launching the corpse of Rudolf Smuntz out of it. He sails through the air, rolling end over end as he does so, and falls down an open manhole into the sewer below, landing in the water with a splash. To the sound of a violin playing, the screen pauses as the following words pop up: "In Memory of William Hickey – 1927-1997". The pallbearers then look down the sewer to see Smuntz's body fall down it)
NC (vo): The pallbearers who botched it up are his sons Lars, played by Lee Evans, and Ernie, played by Nathan Lane. They're given their father's string factory as well as his mansion.
Attorney: (looking at a photo of said mansion) It seems the previous owner was found locked in a trunk in the attic.
(As we cut back to NC, an image of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham with one of his puppets, Peanut, is shown in the corner)
NC: Jeff Dunham worked with puppets so long, he eventually put himself away. (nods)
Lars: (seeing Ernie leave, while holding a ceramic egg) Wait, you can't go. We have to go through all these papers!
(As he turns around, Lars accidentally loses his grip on the egg, and it is flung across the room, bounces off the attorney's head, then bounces off the desk and lands on the floor, shattering to bits. Lars is stunned by what just happened)
NC (vo; deadpan): Wow, how did your slapstick go from flinging a corpse at a funeral into a sewer to egg-bouncing? (A shot of Evel Knievel is superimposed) That's like Evel Knievel following jumping ten buses with...
NC: (reaching hand out, dopey voice) ..."What's that behind your ear?" (pulls out a quarter)
NC (vo): Ernie runs a fancy restaurant where he pretends to be French, and if you're wondering how Nathan Lane's French accent is, it's about as good as (A shot of Lane as Uncle Albert in The Nutcracker is shown in the corner) his German.
(Ernie's latest customer is the mayor, who is running for reelection, and his family)
Ernie: (to the mayor, French accent) Suivez-moi. Oh, you brought ze little ones, ze little bicycle thieves.
(Unbeknownst to anyone, however, his father's cigar box that Ernie had brought with him to the restaurant opens and a cockroach scurries out)
NC (vo): But he brings his father's box of Cubans into the kitchen, because every chef knows that's sanitary as fuck, and a cockroach gets loose.
(A group of news reporters enter the restaurant)
Reporter: Chef Ernie, how does it feel to be serving the Mayor on the eve of his campaign reelection?
NC: (as Ernie, mock French accent) Wonderful! I have prepared a meal of...
(Shots of the following are shown...)
NC (vo; as Ernie): ...custard pies, seltzer water...
(Next, a shot of a flaming chicken is shown, followed by some lobsters with some metal shell crackers next to them)
NC (vo; as Ernie): ...and the finest in flaming and very sharp foods.
NC: (as Ernie) Now kindly have a seat next to (A shot of a stack of anvils is shown) my anvil collection.
(Unfortunately, the Mayor is unknowingly served the cockroach and he bites its head off. When his children realizes the headless cockroach is still there, they become grossed out, and the Mayor freaks out and spits out the cockroach head. This causes him to have a heart attack from the shock and fall over unconscious. The reporters crowd around him)
NC (vo): The Mayor eats the head of the cockroach, resulting in my favorite shot in the movie.
(Ernie stands there, looking quite traumatized, as the news reporters now crowd around him, demanding to know if he intended to murder the Mayor)
NC: That's the look of (The image is shown again in the corner; as Ernie) "My party's leader said what?"
(The Mayor is taken away in an ambulance, where they try vainly to revive him, but it's no use; he's dead)
NC (vo): Thus, the Mayor kicks the bucket and the restaurant closes. Lars is given an offer to sell off the factory, but a piece of string in his pocket sets off a memory.
(Lars has a flashback to his dying father on his death bed. Rudolf gives Lars and Ernie a piece of string)
Rudolf: It's been in my pocket for sixty years. Here. Maybe it'll bring you closer together.
(As we cut back to NC, a collage of shots of Nathan Lane's other characters throughout the years is shown, all in various duo roles with other characters: Albert Goldman in The Birdcage, Spot on Teacher's Pet, Timon in The Lion King, Snowbell in Stuart Little, and Max Bialystock in the 2005 version of The Producers)
NC: (as Ernie) Yeah, Lord knows I've been in enough duos. When am I gonna star in my own movie?
NC (vo): His father asked Lars not to sell the factory, so he turns down the offer. His wife gets pissed and decides to break up with him.
April Smuntz (Vicki Lewis): That's all you've ever had: a plan.
Lars: Please, April, don't go.
April: I'm not going anywhere.
(She dramatically slams Lars' suitcase shut, and the next scene shows Lars standing outside April's door in the snow, which she has slammed shut so hard that a Christmas wreath hanging on the door falls to the ground with a crash)
NC: So, you may pick up the best jokes in this movie are the insanely mean ones, and the worst jokes... (struggles for words, voice turns sour)
NC (vo): ...leave room for the Fuller House laugh track.
(Ernie and Lars, now down on their luck, trudge down the street. They spot a homeless man and then spot two women walking past them. Ernie greets them, but they ignore him)
Ernie: Yeah, I was on top once, too. But there's only one way to go from there, and that's down, baby, down!
(The sound of a laugh track is heard, as we cut briefly to a clip of an episode of Fuller House. Lars, after being dumped by April, goes to a diner where Ernie is working now)
NC (vo): Lars sees Ernie is working at a local diner now. Honestly, I'm surprised he got work that fast.
NC: Even (The Denny's logo appears in the corner) Denny's would say, (makes a phone shape with his hands (pinkie and thumb)) "We'll call you."
NC (vo): And both of them try to figure out what to do.
(The brothers look through the window of a bakery to see a cake on display reading "Welcome Home", with a model of a mansion placed on top of it. We then dissolve to a shot of the exact same house, the one their father left them, that the brothers drive up to)
NC (vo): In a pretty damn impressive transition...
(A shot of the sunrise from Spaceballs is shown in the corner)
Barf (John Candy): Nice dissolve.
(The brothers enter the house)
NC (vo): ...they get the idea to spend the night in the mansion.
(It is pretty dark and rundown inside. They enter the bedroom at the top of the stairs)
Ernie: (to Lars) Only one bed. I'll flip you for it.
(Lars tosses a quarter in the air. It lands on the floor on its side and spins around. Ernie shines his flashlight on it. The quarter stops spinning and stays upright, not falling over. The brothers stare at each other)
NC: I knew it, we're in Inception! (A shot of Inception is shown, with the phrase Inception Is Also Mouse Hunt) Have fun with that film theory.
NC (vo): They share the same bed, but hear something creaking upstairs. I sense "boomp-boomp music".
(Lars and Ernie go up into the attic to investigate the creaking as said "boomp-boomp" music plays. Lars sees a box and picks it up)
(They open the box and a swarm of moths fly out, startling the brothers. They recoil, and Ernie accidentally puts his head through a painting of a woman in the corner, right where the woman's head is. Another laugh track is heard as we cut again to the Fuller House episode in question)
Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber): That's pretty white.
(Cut back to Mouse Hunt, as, to a thunder crash, a bolt of lightning flashes, illuminating a huge scary shadow, which freaks the brothers out. But then when they look, they notice where the shadow is coming from and try to calm down)
Ernie: It's only a toy. (...which turns out to be a jack-in-the-box)
(The brothers hear another noise coming from the ceiling above, so Lars lifts Ernie up into the ceiling to look. Ernie's head smashes through the ceiling, and he sees a mouse that then scurries off)
Ernie: It's just a mouse.
NC (vo): They come across a mouse and blueprints that show the house was designed by a legendary architect named LaRue, summoning every '90s character actor.
(The brothers are met by a home collector named Alexander Falko, played by Maury Chaykin)
Falko: (to an aid) Glass of rain water.
Quincy Thorpe (Michael Jeter): (to the brothers) Yes. Mr. Falko is the world's leading collector of LaRue.
NC (vo): The collector is thrown off, though, when he discovers Ernie wants to do an auction as opposed to just sell it to him.
Falko: (to Thorpe) What is this?
Thorpe: It's the–
Falko: What is this?
Thorpe: It's the first time I've heard–
Falko: (overlapping) No, no.
Lars: (to Ernie, whispering) Smart! (turns to walk off, but bumps his head on an outcropping)
NC: This movie is like a tennis match between a laugh and a cringe.
Falko: What is this?
Thorpe: It's the first time I've heard–
Falko: (overlapping) No, no.
NC: Like, that was a laugh.
(The scene of Lars bumping his head is shown again)
NC: That was another Fuller House laugh track.
(The scene of Lars bumping his head is shown a third time, this time with a laugh track, as we cut to yet another clip of an episode of Fuller House, showing off a baby there. Back to Mouse Hunt, the brothers see the mouse again)
NC (vo): They see the mouse again later that night, and Ernie decides to axe it off.
(Ernie goes into the kitchen to get a mouse trap with Lars behind him)
Lars: Do we really have to...kill it?
Ernie: Yes. Listen to me, a single vermin can bring you down. Believe me, I know.
(As we cut back to NC, an image of Timon is displayed in the corner. NC looks toward the image)
NC: He's definitely talking about that.
(Ernie sets up a mouse trap with an olive as bait, but the next morning, they see the mouse has snapped the trap without getting killed. They then find the mouse and chase it, Ernie carrying a broom and Lars carrying a meat tenderizer)
NC (vo): They set up a trap, but the mouse thwarts it, resulting in more slapstick.
(Ernie tries to stop the mouse with his hand, but Lars accidentally hits Ernie's hand with the tenderizer, making him yell in pain. Lars then looks into the mouse's hole)
Ernie: Let me see!
(Lars moves aside so Ernie can look in. He then turns to Lars)
Ernie: (softly but dangerously) Get me my Gouda.
NC: Only Nathan Lane can make that line sound intimidating.
(Ernie sets another mouse trap with a piece of Gouda cheese, then goes outside with Lars to work on the house)
NC (vo): They place it on the trap as we witness – get this – more slapstick!
(As Lars is hammering a new plank into the house, the head comes off and hits a bucket full of panels, which in turn falls over off the roof. Lars notices the head of his hammer is missing and he then hears the sound of Ernie yelling. Lars looks over to see the bucket of planks, which have fallen on Ernie and knocked him to the ground, with the bucket on his head)
NC: So, here's the thing about slapstick: it's usually the funniest when something major is on the line or it looks really painful.
(Clips of the brothers working on the house and engaging in slapstick is shown)
NC (vo): Making errors fixing up a house isn't that big a stake. I mean, they still have time to repair it. And the physicality is either done off-screen or it just doesn't look like it hurts that much, at least when you compare how many times...
(Cut to a clip of Home Alone, showing Harry angrily beating Marv with his crowbar)
NC (vo): ...the same shtick has been done.
(Back to Mouse Hunt, we see inside the walls of the house, where the mouse has set up a little home, with a jewel box for a bed and a watch for an alarm clock, with a poster for Hawaii on the wall)
NC (vo): But, seeing something like the mouse sleep in a bed...
(Suddenly, however, nails start shooting in through the wall, destroying the mouse's home. It's coming from Lars who is using a nail gun to put in new planks. The mouse has to flee to avoid being impaled on the nails as they come toward him)
NC (vo): ...and then his home is violently invaded is pretty funny.
(Suddenly, another nail cuts off the mouse's path, trapping him. Another nail then starts coming at the mouse, but stops short of impaling, as Lars' nail gun has gone dead)
NC (vo): His nap is interrupted, his home is being obliterated, his life is intensely threatened. But to the brothers, it's just redecorating.
(Lars puts his nail gun aside and takes a hammer to finish the job, which would surely kill the mouse for good. He starts to raise the hammer)
NC (vo): So, every time I get excited for a good setup like this...
(Suddenly, however, before Lars can finish, Ernie interrupts as he brings in a bathtub with a cutout of a sexy woman in it)
NC (vo): ...I roll my eyes when I see a bathtub thrown into the mix.
(The brothers start to carry the tub up the stairs)
NC (vo): I bet no one's gonna be riding that soon.
(Ernie gets startled by the mouse's distorted reflection in a bottle, causing him to lose his grip and fall backwards into the tub. Lars falls in as well as the tub slides down the stairs, out the door and down a snowy hill as the brothers scream)
NC: Oh, also, you don't...
(Zoom in on Lane smiling while sliding down the hill)
NC (vo): ...SMILE while you're screaming in terror!
NC: (with his fists on his sides) How dare you have fun filming this!
(Back in the house, the brothers cover the kitchen floor with mouse traps. They try to leave, but find themselves trapped in, with the only door out locked and nailed shut. A wide shot then shows the floor completely covered with mouse traps. The next morning, the mouse makes his way around the traps and across the shelves to a bowl of cherries)
NC (vo): They set up a ton more traps, but, wouldn't you know it, their escape route won't open, and the mouse doesn't set off any of them. At least, not while he's down there.
(The mouse jumps onto a spoon, knocking a cherry onto the floor. It lands on a mouse trap and sets it off, triggering a chain reaction that sets off all of them. The brothers scream as the mouse traps go off and head toward them like a tidal wave)
NC (vo, as Ernie): Oh, no! They're heading towards us! Let's roll into them!
(The two, for some reason, grab onto each other and roll into the oncoming traps, getting covered in them. After they recover, Ernie grabs a vacuum)
(Lars plugs in the vacuum and Ernie pushes the hose into the mouse's hole, trying to suck him up, but the mouse makes him hit a sewage line, causing him to suck up gallons of sewage)
NC (vo): They try using a vacuum to get him, but accidentally get the sewage line instead.
(The vacuum's bag becomes overfilled with sewage and then bursts, spreading sewage everywhere as the mouse watches from outside)
NC: (simpleton voice) Poop is a physical fart.
(Just then, at the front door, they hear the sound of hammering, as a banker is seen hammering a foreclosure notice to the door. The brothers open the door and the banker sees them covered in sewage)
NC (vo): But get this: the house is being foreclosed on in two days! Kinda odd they didn't receive more reminders about that. What, was their secretary (A shot of Kathy Nicolo from House of Sand and Fog is superimposed) Jennifer Connelly?
(To a rimshot sound, the phrase "'HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG' JOKES, ALWAYS A WIN!" pops up. Then we cut to the next scene, as the brothers arrive at the city pound to get a cat, hoping to use it to get rid of that mouse)
NC (vo): But who cares? Mouse! That clearly takes number-one priority, so they go to the pound and...yeah...
NC: (grinning) Let's get mean again. Let's get Gore Verbinski mean!
(As Ernie and Lars arrive at the pound, they spot a mother and daughter leaving, the girl being dragged along by her mother as she struggles pull away from her and vainly reaching out behind her, kicking and screaming)
Little girl: (hysterically) NO! NO, MOMMY! I WANT MY KITTY!!
(Lars stares in confusion at the mother and daughter before going in. Then we cut to a shot of a commercial for the video release of the movie)
Commercial announcer: Mouse Hunt. Own it today!
(Inside, two people in huge protective suits walk into what looks like a gas chamber taking a caged kitten (presumably having belonged to the little girl) with it. One of the employees stands in front of two showers to wash off)
NC (vo): (snickers) This is just how people get ready to each lunch now.
(A pound worker named Maury, played by Ernie Sabella, takes Lars and Ernie inside to look for a cat)
NC (vo): They go looking for a cat, but it looks like all the pound has is kittens.
Ernie: We really need a ferocious feline, preferably with a history of mental illness. I'm talking...one mean pussy.
NC: That'll help great.
Ernie: ...one mean pussy.
NC (vo, as Ernie): I can say that. I'm gay! Or...Wait, does that make it worse?
(Maury brings Lars and Ernie over to a box containing a large, aggressive cat named Catzilla, who is clearly heard growling inside)
Maury: He's spent most of his whole life in that box, I expect.
NC (vo): They're introduced to Catzilla and, again, the meanest shit really is the funniest.
(The brothers lean in close to the box to tease Catzilla, who growls, shaking the box as it does so. The brothers recoil as Maury zaps the cat with an electric rod to quell it. The cat shrieks)
NC (vo): Jesus!
NC: Who created this character, (A shot of Dragon from The Secret of NIMH is shown in the corner) Don Bluth?!
(Impressed by Catzilla, the brothers agree to take it. They bring the cat to their home, but Lars, carrying the crate, stumbles and drops the crate, which falls to the ground)
NC (vo): Despite the effects being fake, this really is a funny as hell bit.
(Catzilla smashes holes in the crate, reaching its paws out. The brother recoil. The mouse peers through a crack in the crate to hear the cat growling. The cat then smashes out of its crate, letting out a Godzilla-like roar as it does so. Catzilla is a vicious creature as it looks in close to the camera)
NC: I'm so glad they released the...
NC (vo): [Zack] Snyder cut of (A poster for Tom and Jerry: The Movie is shown in the corner) the Tom and Jerry movie.
(As Catzilla chases the mouse through the house, the chase leads to a dumbwaiter. Catzilla enters the box while the mouse climbs up on the rope pulley holding it up. The mouse cuts through the rope with his teeth and the rope snaps. Catzilla only has enough to deliver a confused grunt before it, along with the dumbwaiter, plummets to the ground below)
NC (vo): The mouse of course outsmarts the feline, and they finally call a creepy exterminator, played by... Oh, who else could play this part in 1997?
(That would be Christopher Walken, who plays said exterminator, named Caesar. He drives up to the house in a van with a giant cockroach on top. He looks around at the house)
Caesar: (to Ernie and Lars) You got asbestos all right. I bet it's up in the ceiling, mostly. Shouldn't take me more than a day...or two...to remove it.
NC: Can't tell if he's tricking the mouse or if this is just a normal Walken performance.