|“||God, I hate that mouse!||„|
|~ Ernie Smuntz|
Ernest "Ernie" Smuntz is one of the two main protagonists in 1997 flim MouseHunt. This good-looking gentleman is the older, lovable, logically-minded, more mature, stingy, and skeptical sibling of Lars Smuntz.
When their father passes on, Ernie and Lars inherit an old house and the family string factory. Lars, the faithful son, declines to sell out the factory, which infuriates his wife so she kicks him out and hopes to reunite with him when he learns his lesson. Ernie, who runs a five-star restaurant, is terminated when the mayor passes on while he was eating there all of a sudden. With no other place to go, the siblings shack up at the old house, realizing the place is worth a fortune all of a sudden. The boys choose to fix up the place and sell it in an auction, but first, they have to get rid of a mouse living in the walls. Sounds easy enough, right? Think again...
When once-wealthy string magnate Rudolf Smuntz passes away, he leaves his outdated string factory and a run-down mansion to his two sons, Lars and Ernie. When Lars declines a proposal by representatives from the large Zeppco conglomerate to purchase their string factory, his stingy wife April, who Ernie strongly dislikes, promptly throws him out. Meanwhile, Ernie serves Mayor McKrinkle at his restaurant in anticipation of becoming a famous chef for serving such a high-profile guest. However, the mayor is poisoned by a cockroach (which came from Rudolf's old box of Cuban cigars that Ernie took for himself) and suffers two heart attacks. As a result, the mayor passes away, Ernie's restaurant is shut down by the Board of Health, and he's out on the street as well.
Both homeless and jobless, Ernie and Lars are forced to live in the mansion together. Finding blueprints of the mansion, they discover that it's a lost masterpiece designed by famous architect Charles Lyle LaRue. Alexander Falko a wealthy LaRue collector makes a proposal, but Ernie declines under the belief they can make a larger profit by restoration and auction. However, the siblings have already realized that the house has one uncompromising occupant: a tiny and treacherous mouse. Fearing a repeat cockroach incident, Ernie decides that they have to get rid of the rodent. Despite attempting a wide array of methods, including numerous mousetraps and a vacuum cleaner, they fail. To make their situation worse, Ernie borrows $1,200 against the house mortgage to buy a jacuzzi tub (which is lost to the bottom of a frozen nearby lake), and the bank threatens to foreclose on the house in two days unless they reimburse the money. The siblings purchase a monstrous cat named "Catzilla" to deal with the mouse while they set out to find a way to pay the mortgage. Catzilla chases the mouse throughout the house, but gets duped onto the dumbwaiter as the mouse sends it on a one-way trip down to its demise. Then they hire a quirky exterminator named Caesar (Christopher Walken) to handle the mouse, though he is severely wounded.
Meanwhile, Lars attempts to raise the money by withholding the salaries of the string factory's employees. The furious employees go on strike instead, and Lars's attempt to run the factory himself ends in disaster. Elsewhere, Ernie discovers documents about the proposal for the factory and attempts a rendezvous with the Zeppco representatives. However, preoccupied by two attractive Belgian hair-models named Hilde and Ingrid while he is waiting, he is struck by a bus and rushed to a hospital, missing his appointment. Later, Lars meets Ernie in the hospital and explains that April, realizing Lars' possible auction profits (and having made love with him upon finding out), has agreed to pay the mortgage off.
Upon returning home to find a banged-up and delirious Caesar being carted away by paramedics, the siblings resume their task to dispense with the mouse with renewed obsession. Whenever Ernie chases the mouse up a chimney and gets stuck, Lars attempts to light a match while the mouse starts a gas leak, creating a brutal explosion that blasts Ernie out of the chimney and into the lake where he lands in his sunken jacuzzi tub. In rage, Ernie grabs a shotgun and fires it at the mouse, unintentionally shooting a compressed can of pesticide that Caesar left behind which explodes and blasts a large hole in the floor below them.
As the siblings recover from the blast, Zeppco calls and leaves an answering machine message stating that since Ernie never arrived, they have withdrawn their offer to buy the factory. Now mad at each other for all the fibs and insincerity, the siblings start quarreling and the subject shifts towards Rudolf, who constantly favored Lars over Ernie because Lars embraced his father's interests at all times, and Ernie expresses his frustration at how he was never able to win their father's approval before his demise. At the height of their bickering, Lars throws an orange at Ernie, but unintentionally hits the mouse and knocks him unconscious and at first they think it is no longer alive. Unable to finish him off, they seal the mouse in a box and mail him to Fidel Castro in Cuba instead. With the mouse seemingly vanished and with April having paid off the mortgage, the sibling reconcile one last time and finish renovating the house.
The night of the auction finally arrives, which is attended by Falko, April, Hilde and Ingrid, and a wide variety of international multi-millionaires. Falko attempts to get Ernie to call off the auction with a $10 million offer, but Ernie refuses and the auction begins soon enough. However, Lars discovers the mouse's box in the snow outside, came back due to insufficient postage (as they forgot to weigh it) and with a big hole gnawed through it. Lars and Ernie panic upon seeing the mouse come back, but attempt to maintain their composure as the auction continues. When the mouse's antics starts sparking panic and riot in the guests, the siblings desperately attempt to flush out the mouse by feeding a hose into the wall. As the auction reaches a record $25 million bid, the house rapidly floods through the walls and finally the floors, and all the people are washed out of the house as it promptly collapses. Watching as April and all the bidders depart in disgust, the siblings' only consolation is the fact that the mouse must be dead at last.
With nowhere else to go, the siblings head back to the factory and get shut-eye, with only a single chunk of cheese for food. The mouse, having followed the siblings, restarts and feeds the cheese into the machinery inventing the world's first string cheese, which inspires Ernie and Lars. In the last scene, Ernie and Lars end their war with the mouse and have successfully rebuilt the factory as a novelty string cheese company. Lars has started a relationship with Hilde, and Ernie, now a brand new man, is able to put his culinary skill to work in developing new cheese flavors with the mouse as his personal taste-tester.
The film ends with Rudolf's portrait (which changes emotions throughout the movie) finally smiling, next to a frame containing his lucky string and his life's quote, "A world without string is chaos."