MouseHunt (film)

1997 film by Gore Verbinski

MouseHunt is a 1997 American slapstick/black comedy film about two brothers who inherit a crumbling old house from their eccentric father, and subsequently find themselves locked in a battle of wits with a hyper-intelligent mouse.

Directed by Gore Verbinski. Written by Adam Rifkin.
The funniest movie of the year! (taglines)

Ernie Smuntz

  • No capers? But that's just grilled cheese. What's the point? Why don't they eat out of a trough? [He rings a counter-bell, looking around at the diner's customers] Alright! Which one of you palateless sheep sent my sandwich back?
  • Yeah, I was on top once, too. And there's only one way to go from there, and that's down, baby! Down!
  • I don't think we're dealing with an ordinary mouse.
  • Hasta la vista, you little rat bastard!
  • Pop's lucky string! That son of a bitch ate it!
  • [when Lars accidentally hits Ernie with a broom] What are you doing, ya stupid nitwit?!
  • [when Lars accidentally smacks Ernie's hand with a hammer] Are you trying to kill me?!!
  • [holding a tiny box, addressed to Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba] Aw... I forgot to put holes in the box! [He chuckles evilly]
  • [Upon seeing the box, returned for insufficient postage] I told you, you should have weighed him.
  • [Doing taste tests with the mouse] Here you go, knock yourself out. [The mouse takes a bite of the string cheese and throws it down] No good, huh? Otis, more curry! [He gives him the next string cheese] Okay, try this one. [He eats it all up] Eh? It's mozzarella and herring. You can taste the herring, right? I've also got a great idea for a caviar-brie swirl and a peanut butter and jelly-provolone for the kids. But I really want to talk about marketing. You should be our spokesperson. I know some people who have used a mouse as a spokesperson and it seemed to work out pretty well...

Lars Smuntz

  • [quoting his father] A world without string... is chaos.
  • Ernie, It's Christmas. Instead of dwelling what we don't have. We should be thankful for what we do have.
  • [explaining to Ernie how April apologized to him] She just showed up at the factory, took off her coat, and begged me to take her. We made love in a way that I've only ever seen in nature films.
  • [as Ernie blasts the house apart with a shotgun] Are you crazy? You're blowing the whole house up! The only thing you haven't hit so far is the mouse! Why don't you give someone else a chance with that gun? [Ernie levels the shotgun at him, and Lars immediately relents] You're doing a wonderful job.
  • [Lars points to the hole on the floor] Look! You blew a hole in the floor!


[At the funeral of Rudolf Smuntz, his sons Lars and Ernie are bickering as they help carry his coffin out of the church]
Lars: Hold your end up higher. You're not holding it.
Ernie: I am too.
Lars: You are not.
Ernie: Don't worry about me. Hey, ain't that suit charcoal?
Lars: No.
Ernie: Looks charcoal gray to me, some gray polyester blend. You'd think you could find a black suit for your own father's funeral.
Lars: It's black.
Ernie: No, I'm sure it's gray.
Lars: It's black!
Ernie: Gray!
Lars: Black!
Ernie: Gray!
Lars: Black!
Ernie: Fine, it's black. It's the grayest black I've ever seen.
Lars: It doesn't matter what color it is! [Lars's handle breaks off, causing everybody else to drop the coffin down the steps] I'm sorry, Pop. I'm sorry! [the coffin smashes into the hearse, sending Rudolf's corpse flipping into the air and headfirst down an open manhole, The opening credits starts - "DreamWorks Pictures Presents"]
Lars: Quick! Get him out of there!
Sewer worker: He's halfway to the harbor by now, bub.
Ernie: Oh, well.

The Lawyer: [reading the last will of Rudolf Smuntz to Ernie and Lars] I leave you not just a model factory... but something infinitely more valuable. The future of string... itself. [Ernie opens the blade of the window and sees the factory is causing chaos, The opening credits end - "Directed by Gore Verbinski"] And thus, it is my dying wish that my two sons run Smuntz String together.
Ernie: Great! Let's take a "For Sale" sign on the lawn and see what we can get.
Lars: We're not supposed to sell it, Ernie. We're supposed to run it, together.
Ernie: Either way, this godforsaken museum piece is not worth a dime, now is it, Lars?
Lars: Some things are more important than money, Ernie.
Ernie: [to the Lawyer] Notice how it's always the financially-challenged who says that?

[People gather at Chez Ernie as they greet Mayor McKrinkle, his wife, and kids, who enter a restaurant called Chez Ernie]
Reporters: [chattering]
Leslie: Mr. Mayor! Mr. Mayor, over here! Mr. Mayor! Do you think your recent triple heart bypass affect your campaign strategy?
Mayor McKrinkle: Now, Leslie, I'm just here to eat.
Mayor and his family enter the restaurant
Ernie: [French accent] Ah, monsieur le maire, Madame maire, welcome to Chez Ernie. What an honour it is to have you in my humble bistro. Suivez-moi. You brought the little ones. The little bicycle thieves. Bonjour! Our very best table. Have you lost little weight?
Mayor McKrinkle: Oh, I--
Ernie: I think so! I think you may be buff! Je suisse enchante pour votre beaute. You know what I mean?
The Mayor's Wife: Oh, Monsieur Ernie... [chuckles]
Ernie: Excusez-moi. Au revoir, les enfants! [enters the kitchen to cook the lobster loaf and sighs] The air's not so thin at the top. Just like the old man to die before I hit it big. [unaware of this, however, a cockroach, which is in Ernie's father's box of cubans, opens the lid, and scurries toward the food] Remember, everyone. Attention to detail is vital! Presentation is everything. [stops the waiter] No, no, no, no, no! These I must deliver myself. [puts a fire on Duck a l'orange, brings all of the food and places on the table] Duck a I'Orange avec du quack sauce... And for ze Mayor, la specialite de la maison, Lobster Loaf a la Ernest ou la bibliotheque. Bon Appetit.
Mayor McKrinkle: Oh. [exhales]
Ernie: Ah, bonjour!
Leslie: Chef Ernie. How does it feel to be serving the mayor on the eve of his campaign reelection?
Ernie: Well, Leslie... May I call you Leslie?
Leslie: Ah, of course.
Mayor McKrinkle: [eats the lobster loaf almond without noticing the cockroach in his food by mistakenly biting his head off] Crunchy! Hmm. I love the almonds.
Ernie: Leslie, cuisine, she is a fickle mistress...
Becky: [notices the cockroach's body, disgusted] EW! Look! [picks the cockroach's body up with a fork] A cockroach!
[All the reporters, shocked, go to the family table]
Betty: That's only half a cockroach.
[realizing what he just ate, the mayor starts to feel sick, and freaks off, because he accidentally bit the cockroach's head off and hasn't seen the cockroach in his food]
Becky: Daddy, you ate the head!
The Mayor's Wife: [clutches the mayor's shoulder, concerned] Honey, are you OK? [the mayor immediately throws up and spits his food and the cockroach's head out onto the table, causing him to choke. The cockroach's head crawls out of the mayor's vomit, because he inadvertentaly bit the cockroach's head off. Becky and Betty grab knives, and start trying to stab the cockroach's head, which crawls away to avoid getting caught, otherwise he'd get killed for poisoining the mayor. The mayor coughs while clutching his chest in agony, then collapses to the floor, screaming, and falling over unconscious, due to this shock causing him to have a heart attack, much to his wife's shock, just as she screams in terror] Not again!
Reporters: Was this an accident or murder...? [Ernie just stands there, looking quite traumatized, as the reporters now crowd around him, demanding to know if he intended to murder the mayor, or if it was an accident to serve the mayor the cockroach]
[The paramedics put the mayor in the hospital truck ambulance, and try vainly to revive him, but fail. As they try again, the kids play outside, and much to Ernie's sorrow, the restaurant closes]
Paramedic: Clear!
Betty': That's it!
Becky: I can do that better!
[The Mayor's Wife ends up crying and blubbering while Ernie feels sorry for what he accidentally did to the mayor]

[In Rudolf Smuntz' flashback]
Rudolf: My sons...
Lars: [whispering] Ernie. Ernie!
Ernie: [reading a magazine] Yeah, just a sec.
Rudolf: I want have...something. My most prized possession. [He holds a string]
Lars: [sighs] Oh, it's a piece of st-string.
Rudolf: Not just any string. The string. I found it my first day in America.
Ernie: What's with the string?
Rudolf: I've had it in my pocket for 60 years. Here! [He gives the string to Ernie and Lars] I want you two to share it. Maybe it'll bring you closer together. You haven't talked much lately.
Ernie: Yeah. [He starts to tug on it]
Rudolf: Ach! What are you doing?
Ernie: I'm breaking it in half.
Rudolf: No!
Ernie: No?
Rudolf: I want you to share it. Forever.
Ernie: Sure, Pop, sure. You carry it the first 50 years, I'll take it the next.
Lars: Sure.
Ernie: And turn up the morphine drip a little.
Rudolf: I heard that. [Ernie goes back to reading the magazine] Promise me... that you will never sell... Smuntz String... to one of those big conglomerates. Keep it between you. Brothers. Family. Promise.
Lars: I promise, Pop. [back in the present] I promise.

Ernie: When I'm in the kitchen, I cook. I can't control every single thing that goes on in there.
Lars: You know, it really isn't fair for everybody to blame you. You didn't do anything wrong.
Ernie: Yes, but society always needs someone to persecute. A scapegoat, someone to demonize. The same thing happened to Galileo.
Lars: Really? That's unbelievable. With a cockroach, and everything?
Ernie: No. The point is, I put everything I had into that restaurant. It was my livelihood, and my home. In one fatal bite, it was all taken away from me. If only we could sell the factory.
Lars: I'd let you stay with me, you know, but, uh, April threw me out.
Ernie: Oh, that's too bad.
Lars: Yeah, well, don't worry about me, though, Ernie. This is temporary. April's been like this since high school. She'll be back. I...
Ernie: Well, would you look at that? Sleeping in the street. Pitiful.
Homeless Man: If I had a house, I'd sleep in it!

Lars: [after Ernie insults their late father] Wow, did you feel that?
Ernie: What?
Lars: I got a chill. You should never talk about Pop like that.
Ernie: Really? What's this do for you? [He shouts] Thanks for nothing, ya string-sucking old loon! [Lars covers his ears]
Lars: [whispers] He didn't mean it, Pop.

Alexander Falko: LeRue. I have his books, I have his letters. You see the shoes?
Ernie & Lars: [glancing down at his shoes] LeRue's?
Alexander Falko: No, but I'm sure he would have loved them.

Lars: [staring at Ernie's triggered-but-empty mousetrap] I don't believe it. He snapped the trap, ate the olive, and left the pit just to mock us!
Ernie: I think you're giving him a little too much credit. Mice don't mock. They don't have a sense of humor or irony. He's not sitting in his hole in a smoking jacket sipping cognac, and giggling to himself, "I left the pit!" The trap snapped itself, the olive flew off and he ate it. [He starts pouring the cereal he had gotten] It's just that simple. But now that he knows we're here, he won't come within a mile of us. I don't think we'll be seeing any more of that... [the mouse suddenly falls out of the cereal box] Mouse!

[The brothers have covered the entire kitchen floor in baited mousetraps]
Lars: Don't you think this is a little... much?
Ernie: Never underestimate your opponent. Let's say, he has mastered a way to empty a mousetrap without getting caught. If he snaps one of these babies, the chain reaction will start snapping them all. He'll panic, and the law of averages says that one of them has to nab him.
Lars: That's pretty smart.
Ernie: Yeah, well, I like to use both sides of my brain.

[Lars and Ernie are at the animal shelter in search of a suitable mouse-hunting cat.]
Maury the Handler: Find the one you want, and I'll spay or neuter it myself.
Lars: Well, these are all kittens. We were hoping for an older cat, one with experience.
Maury the Handler: That's a switch. Most people want the cute little ones. Experience with what?
Ernie: Mouse-hunting.
Maury the Handler: Oh, all cats are good mousers.
Ernie: Yes, but you see, we have huge rats, the size of sumo wrestlers, and lots of them, so we really need a ferocious feline, preferably with a history of mental illness. I'm talking... one mean pussy.
Lars: Yeah! A vicious cat, difficult to love. You have any of those knocking around your cages?
Maury the Handler: Funny you should ask. I had all but given up on anyone wanting him. We were about to... gas him again.
Ernie & Lars: Again?
[Maury the Handler leads the brothers to a chained-and-padlocked crate]
Maury the Handler: He's spent most of his life in that box, I expect...
Ernie: [reading a tag tied to the crate] "Catzilla"?
Maury the Handler: Oh, you know the guys who clean up call him that, but you can call him anything you want. I'd say he looks like a "Fluffy".
Lars: [leaning down] Aw, poor little Catzilla. You want a home, don't you? You want to get out of here. Well, you're gonna have to kill, kill, kill for it!
Ernie: You're a stupid cat, aren't you? Yes, you are! And you're ugly, too, extremely ug...
[The cat lunges, until Maury the Handler subdues him with a taser]
Lars: [seeing his ripped coat sleeve] Oh, you little bastard!
Ernie: We'll take him.

[after turning Catzilla loose in the house...]
Ernie: Wow... I almost feel sorry for the little fella.
[they pause]
Ernie & Lars: ...Almost! [the two laugh]

[The brothers have hired an exterminator named Caesar, who explains his methods]
Caesar: Here's your problem: normal people are not psychologically-equipped to catch mice. You have to get inside their minds, you have to know what they want, need. You have to think like a mouse. If you can do that, if you can think like a mouse, you can anticipate their moves, and then... boom! Sayōnara, mouse.
Lars: Well, you've got some great stuff. [He picks up a can of pesticide]
Caesar: Whoa! Never touch that! [The brothers panic and throw the can around until Caesar catches it]
Lars: What is that?
Caesar: The big one.
Ernie: It's a flea bomb.
Caesar: Works on mice, too.
Ernie: Yeah? Well, it'd better! Because we can't handle any more intrusions.
Caesar: Sure, that's how you perceive it. But to the mouse... You are the intruder.

[The brothers later arrive at the house to see a delirious Caesar being carried out on a stretcher by paramedics]
Ernie: Oh, my God!
Lars: Caesar, what happened?
Paramedic: Please, sir, he's not well.
Ernie: Try to think! Did you kill the mouse?
Caesar: What's that?!!! Horse?!!!! Fiendish!!! I won't eat it!! [He keeps ranting and raving as he's carried away]

[After hearing ZeppCo's message about Ernie's proposal with them...]
Lars: Betrayed by my own brother.
Ernie: Betrayal? Don't talk to me about betrayal! You should have told me about that offer! Half that factory is mine!
Lars: And half is mi... And half is mine, including the half that you tried to sell!
Ernie: Yeah, and it would have, if it hadn't been for that stinking bus!
Lars: Bus? You can't leave well enough alone, can you? You ruin everything!
Ernie: Me? You blame me for this?
Lars: Well, look! [He points to the big hole caused from the bug bomb] You blew a hole in the floor!
Ernie: Well, I distinctly remember somebody yelling, "Shoot, shoot!"
Lars: Yeah, yell, you've never listened to me before!
Ernie: And you know why?
Lars: Why?
Ernie: Because I have no respect for you! Spending your whole life in that stupid factory! It's tragic.
Lars: You think I didn't have other things I wanted to do with my life? You think I didn't have ambitions of my own?
Ernie: Oh, come on, you love 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 is 70th birthday.
Lars: [sighing in resignation] Oh, no.
Ernie: Yes, you remember! 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. [He sighs] He was crazy. But I still wanted his approval. I didn't leave, Lars. I was cast out.
Lars: There you go again. Blaming everything else but yourself. You think you're a success. Huh? Well, you... [He points at Ernie] ...can't...cook!
Ernie: I hate you!
Lars: And I hate you!
Ernie: Not as much as I hate you!
Lars: Yeah!?!!!
Ernie: Yeah, double! Double!!!!! Oh, give me something! I'm gonna brain you!
Lars: Here it is!
Ernie: Oh, yeah, give it to me! Go ahead!
[In the midst of an argument, Lars throws an orange at Ernie, who fortunately manages to duck, but when the orange hits the mouse instead, Ernie sees the unconscious mouse on the table in shock]
Ernie: You killed him! [He laughs with joy as Lars walks over]
Lars: I didn't even know he was there!
Ernie: Just think of all the trouble we could have saved ourselves if we just threw fruit at him in the first place!
Lars: Look! He's still breathing!
Ernie: Well, kill him, kill him! Find a blunt object! There!
[Lars grabs a small shovel and prepares to finish the mouse]
Lars: There we go, get the...!
Ernie: Let him have it. [Lars hesitates] What the hell are you waiting for!?!!
Lars: I can't just hit him with a shovel.
Ernie: Why not?
Lars: Well, look at him, he's pathetic.
Ernie: Pathetic? He's Hitler with a tail! This is The Omen with whiskers! Nostradamus didn't see this thing coming!
Lars: Well, Ernie, he's a living thing.
Ernie: Not for long! Give me that! [He snatches the shovel from Lars and prepares to kill the mouse, but hesitates] I can't! [he hits himself in the head with the shovel and starts crying] Look at him just lying there! It just doesn't feel very sportsman-like.
[The mouse starts regaining consciousness]
Lars: We'd better do something quick! I think he's coming to!

[At the house's auction, Ernie is greeting the guests near the buffet table]
Ernie: [greeting an African prince] Ah, Hakuna Matata.
New York Lady: The crepés are magnificent. The raisins are a nice touch.
Ernie: They are good, aren't they? [He looks confused] Raisins? [He checks a tray for mouse droppings]

[Having been flooded out of the house in the brothers' last attempt to kill the mouse, the angry auction guests are leaving]
Ernie: Hey! Don't go! The water was just a… a demonstration of... of how durable a LeRue really is! [he laughs] How about that, huh? Now, you know... this house will last forever! [the house suddenly collapses]


  • The funniest movie of the year!
  • Who's hunting who?
  • The Mouse Never Dies
  • The squeak shall inherit the earth.
  • You don't need to be big to be a hero.


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