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Regarding the digital special effects, Ebert deemed the film "an excellent example of the way modern advances in special effects can sabotage a picture (Titanic is an example of effects being used wisely). Because it is possible to make a movie in which the mouse can do all sorts of clever things, the filmmakers have assumed incorrectly that it would be funny to see the mouse doing them."
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"Mouse Hunt'' is not very funny, and maybe couldn't have been very funny no matter what, because the pieces for comedy are not in place. It's the story of two luckless brothers who inherit a priceless architectural treasure, and hope to auction it for a big bundle, but are frustrated at every turn by the house's only inhabitant, a very clever mouse. Quick: Who do we sympathize with? The brothers, or the mouse? The movie doesn't know, and as a result the payoffs are lost in a comic vacuum. Pratfalls, slapstick and special effects are not funny in themselves (something Hollywood keeps forgetting). They're only funny when they apply to someone we have an attitude about, so that we want them to succeed, or fail. A comedy that hasn't assigned sympathy to some characters and made others hateful cannot expect to get many laughs, because the audience doesn't know who to laugh at, or with.
Sort of cute. It has been cinematically assembled from many sources (real trained mice, animated mice, an animatronic mouse for the closeups) but it has never been given a goal in life, other than to function as a plot device. Is the mouse intelligent? Does it know and care what is happening? Or is it simply a movie prop to be employed on cue? We aren't told, and we don't know. Because the mouse has no personality or personal history, because it has no particular goals other than to continue being a mouse, it isn't a sympathetic character, but simply an ingenious prop.
"Mouse Hunt'' is an excellent example of the way modern advances in special effects can sabotage a picture ("Titanic" is an example of effects being used wisely). Because it is possible to make a movie in which the mouse can do all sorts of clever things, the filmmakers have assumed incorrectly that it would be funny to see the mouse doing them.
"Mouse Hunt'' is a film that has gone to incredible effort and expense in order to sidetrack itself from comic payoffs. Less mouse, better dialogue and more strongly drawn characters might have made a funnier movie. 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.