YMMV: The Secret of NIMH

The Secret of NIMH

  • Adaptation Displacement: Book? What is this book you speak of? The film is much more well known than the source novel. Even the poorly received sequel seems to be more famous.
    • This is not helped by the ebook being available only on the UK iTunes Store.
    • The book is far more popular among elementary school students in the US.
  • All Animation Is Disney: Like most of Bluth's work, this mistake has been made, but those who make it are generally a minority. If anything, it's most famous for being one of the best non-Disney animated features ever.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: On-screen violence, death and other trauma, as well as a casual "damn" thrown in to Avoid the Dreaded G Rating... which it still got.
  • Bellisario's Maxim: Don Bluth's handwave regarding the addition of magic and the amulet to the film without explanation; he simply felt it was unnecessary to explain the Amulets origins and that its purpose in the film was more important to focus on.
    "With regard to the amulet, it is a metaphor for believing in one's self. Remember the quote, "Courage of the heart is very rare, the stone has a power when it's there." It helps symbolize her courage and the power of the stone to help rescue her children...a miracle, if you will. God stuff. Granted, it isn't in the original novel, but we felt that it was much more powerful. Nicodemus says it was Jonathan's, but really just to get her to accept it. We didn't really think it was necessary to explain it further. Seems like we would eat up too much screen time to tell the history of the amulet, when the story was about an innocent widow mouse, who, thru her journey would find out that she has the courage to rescue her own family. Regarding magic, we really believe that animation calls for some magic, to give it a special "fantastic" quality. The stone or amulet is just a method of letting the audience know that Mrs. Brisby has found 'Courage of the Heart'. Magic? Maybe. Spiritual? Yes."
  • Complete Monster: Jenner is a nasty, murderous piece of work. In contrast to his noble brethren amongst the rats of NIMH, Jenner desires nothing but power. When The Hero Mrs. Brisby comes to the rats for help moving her family and house to be safe from a farmer's plow, Jenner sabotages the moving so the wise and kind leader of the rats, Nicodemus is crushed to death. When he sees Nicodemus bequeathed a special stone to Mrs. Brisby, Jenner attempts to murder her for it. What makes it even worse is Jenner, like all the rats, owes his very life to Mrs. Brisby's deceased husband and the father of her kids and displays zero remorse or gratitude to Jonathan's memory. After his henchman Sullivan finally has enough with Jenner's lunacy, Jenner slashes his throat and attempts to kill his rival Justin, declaring his only philosophy in life: "Take what you can when you can."
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The song "Flying Dreams". To which you could add the opening credits, closing credits, Mrs. Brisby & Jeremy's flight to meet the owl, the rescue of the Brisby house... well, the entire score...
    • "Flying Dreams" is arguably a lot cooler when you realize that it's one of the few songs Paul Williams has recorded since he stopped releasing albums in the early 80s.
    • It really says something about how amazing the musical score when Jerry Goldsmith himself stated this was one of his personal favorite's.
  • Cult Classic: Regarded by fans as one of Don Bluth's best works for its deep and complex story and three dimensional characters.
  • Designated Monkey: Jeremy. Even regarding how much trouble his clumsiness and quirkiness causes, he's so well-meaning and innocent that it's easy to feel sorry for him, especially since most of the time he is being punished by the protagonists he's trying to help (such as Mrs Brisby's kids he was so convinced would adore him).
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Justin and Mrs. Brisby. There's obviously some attraction going on there, but their species difference and the fact that Mrs. Brisby is very recently widowed makes this something of a hot-button subject.
    • Here's what the actual script has to say about their introduction:
    [Justin] notices [Mrs. Brisby]. She has already noticed quite a few things about him.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In one scene Mrs. Brisby jumps out of a bird cage with a string to break her fall. In real life, her voice actress Elizabeth Hartman committed suicide a few years later by jumping to her death.
    • A mild case, but at some point Mr. Ages asks Justin to take Mrs. Brisby to the library (where she can wait before meeting Nicodemus). Yet it's later revealed that she only has very basic reading skills, and thus would probably not be able to enjoy the reading of a book. In the original novel, when Mrs. Frisby is taken to the library, she meets a younger rat, and the two have a conversation before she gets called to see Nicodemus.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Don Bluth once said in an interview that if he came back for a sequel he would make Timmy the villain and Martin the hero out to stop him. When the sequel came out, the exact opposite happened.
  • Hype Backlash: After several Big Name Fans such as The Nostalgia Critic lavished it with praise and inspired a new generation to check it out, it was inevitable that a number of them would just find it more So Okay, It's Average. Which might have been because it was talked up so much in the first place and then just couldn't live up to the hype.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Jenner is regarded as one of the most successful villains in film history. Since he makes the falling of Mrs. Brisby's house and Nicodemus' death look like an accident, no one suspects his cruel deed... until Justin finds out about his plans from Sullivan. Had he counted on that as well as Mrs. Brisby warning the other rats about NIMH coming to exterminate them, he would've gotten away with it.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Jenner crosses this after cutting the rope and causing the brick to crush Nicodemus.
  • One-Scene Wonder: John Carradine as the Owl. The whole scene on both a technical and emotional level could be considered Bluth's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Retroactive Recognition/Hey, It's That Voice!: Wil Wheaton and Shannon Doherty both got very early roles as child actors in this movie, and this would mark the first of a long line of roles Dom De Luise would play for Don Bluth.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Back in the early days of the NIMH fandom, there was a good amount of battle between Justin x Brisby and Jonathan x Brisby (substitute Brisby for the Fan Nickname if desired); this was fueled by a still image of Justin and Mrs. Brisby kissing, rumored to be a shot of a scene cut from the movie; Word of God killed this notion fairly quickly, but the fandom picks at it from time to time.
  • Special Effects Failure: The bulk of the film has impressive animation and special effects work, but some of the scenes of the Tractor and its plow during the Moving Day sequence are obvious live action footage tinted in brown, which sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the films art. Even Don Bluth admitted he was dissatisfied with the effect in his book "The Art of Storyboard".
  • Tough Act to Follow: Thought he did plenty of other good films after this one, most people still agree that this is Don Bluth's most consistently good film.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Between the lightning sparking off Brutus's halberd, the lightshows from Nicodemus' Crystal Ball, the Mind Screw-y visuals during the NIMH flashback sequences, and the amulet coming to life at the end, the light effects are utterly dazzling.
    • Done by a staff of three effects animators, no less!
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: It's hard to tell whether this is really a family movie. Graphic on-screen character death, horrifying creatures, a completely superfluous "damn", several psychologically disturbing scenes.

The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue

  • Ass Pull: Two examples:
    • First is Nicodemus' prophecy. It was never mentioned in the first film and was just thrown in for the purpose of giving the film a plot. What's even more jarring is that Nicodemus may have had telekinetic abilities, was wise and had a magical viewing globe but it was never made explicit that he could tell the future. And if he could see the future, shouldn't he have seen that brick coming?
    • Second is Mrs. Brisby's letter to Timmy that Martin is missing. You would think that because Martin is an important character in the story that this letter should be an important plot point, but it is thrown in quite far into the movie just to explain that Martin went missing. It even looks like Timmy pulled the thing out of his ass.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The "Magic Mystery Show", sung by Jeremy and Cecil, accompanied by a bunch of dancing forest animals. It gets really ridiculous at points (Cecil's 'Optimouse' credit card is every bit as nonsensical as a Bat Credit Card,) and after the animals realize it's a scam and chase Jeremy and Cecil away, no one talks about it again.
  • Ear Worm: "Magic Mystery Show"
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Martin, who is much more likable, funny, and interesting than Timmy. Even moreso after he becomes the bad guy, at which point he's voiced by Eric Idle.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Most persons refuse to acknowledge it as canon.
  • Sympathetic Sue: Timmy. He is praised as a hero, before he even hits puberty or does anything worthwhile. He spends much of the movie angsting over his dead father and his supposed destiny to follow in his footsteps. He is generally reckless and inattentive, and yet he still manages to save several other characters, largely by accident. Anyone who disagrees with him is portrayed as in the wrong, and to top it off, he gets the girl after a single line of dialogue.
  • Sequelitis: The incredibly bad animation quality and general TOTAL lack of faithfullness to the original film's art direction, completely going against the serious, competent story, mood and characterization of the original film in favor of Flanderization, narmy writing combined with phoned in voice acting, and horribly written MUSICAL NUMBERS. The plot is a total Cliché Storm.
    • To give an idea, Mrs. Brisby is in the film for about a grand total of 25 seconds. No recognition is made of the amazing stuff she did towards the end of the first film, not even a "Hey, that was some cool stuff you did." The entire conflict of the movie is an extremely obvious Self-Fulfilling Prophecy that can be seen a mile away, the songs absolutely suck, and almost as if to call attention to the horrible animation, there are a few clips from the first film at the beginning, which actually serve to remind the viewer that "Hey, remember this movie? You should be watching that one again, not this one. See how much better it looks?"
      • For many, the ONLY bright spot is Eric Idle as Evil Martin. When he's on screen, it's somewhat less painful.
      • As with many of the unofficial Bluth sequels, Timmy To The Rescue is popular with some younger audiences due to the Lighter and Softer setup (which was likely what was intended).
  • They Just Didn't Care: The original was filled with deep philosophical messages and filled with superb animation...the sequel is a glorified ripoff of almost all of the Disneyfication Cliché Storm that happened with the late 90s to early 2000s animated sequels with little resemblance to the original film.
  • Unfortunate Implication : The movie can seem sexist at times with the two key evidence being:
    • 1. The movie seems to have the characters praise a male protagonist who did almost nothing to save Thorn Valley (Timmy) over a female protagonist who actually helped the rats (Mrs. Brisby) who isn't even thanked.
    • 2. All of the female characters of the Brisby Residence (Mrs. Brisby, Teresa, Auntie Shrew, and Cynthia) are all Demoted to Extras while Timmy and Martin have big roles.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Remember all those scientists brainwashed into acting like animals and forced into cages? They were never shown freed, implying they burned alive inside the Nimh Facility.

Both Films:

  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Jeremy may count, due to his comic relief role, being voiced by Dom De Luise.
    • "Everyone is Furry for Justin!"
    • Evil Martin seems to have more fans than the sequel as a whole does.
    • The Great Owl is in one scene, and its very memorable.
  • Fanon:
    • The fanfic "Rats of Thorn Valley" spawned a Muck (NIMH Muck), which has its own continuity spanning from the end of the fic to around ten years after the movie and is still going strong.
    • Some fanon states that Jonathan is alive; the fic listed above explains how he could be, and it actually makes sense.
    • General fanon stated that the mice survived their drop in the shaft, mostly because because it was a cool plot point and was a little open to interpretation. Funnily enough, this idea was actually picked up by the sequel.