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Butt News #25: The Secret of NIMH
The Secret Is I'm Depressed
[It’s Butt News’s birthday this week! We’ve been doing this silly little project for two years and, if I can be sincere for a second, I am so grateful to everyone who subscribes (paid and unpaid!) and comments and participates and laughs and e-mails me and makes this extremely niche thing that I LOVE to do feel like it has an audience and a purpose. Thank you thank you thank you thank you forever—I can’t say this has been my BEST mental health year and Butt News is a balm, my absolute #1 favorite part of my job, and I only get to do it because of all of you, and in the third year of Butt News my only goal is to do it MORE. What a dream!
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I am not a Disney adult, but my general stance on Disney adults is that people should feel free to do that if it makes them happy because life is short and happiness is evanescent and moments of embodying our true joys are few and far between, especially under the buckled bootheel of capitalism1. As a child I possessed an average amount of Disney enthusiasm—I had my top picks (Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, Oliver and Company) and a big taste for 1960s and 70s live action Disney originals (Blackbeard’s Ghost2, Escape to Witch Mountain, etc3)—but let me tell you I looooooooooooooved a good NON-Disney animated feature. So exotic and mysterious!!! Relentlessly depressing! Who are these people!? The Last Unicorn (perverted), the Rankin/Bass Hobbit (Melkor himself would cower!), Watership Down (“for kids” lmao), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (scarier than It), An American Tale (Jewish baby mouse flees arson attack by anti-Semitic cats, sold into sweatshop labor), and, the hero of the day, a VHS I absolutely wore out, Don Bluth classic The Secret of NIMH.4
Which brings me to my most important point of the day: Don Bluth is still alive!!!!!!!!!!! Can somebody get Don Bluth back to work!? I tire of this Bluthless life! What is this—a sweatshop for mice!?
Anyway, the movie: An old rat lights a candle and does his Morning Pages. This rat is elderly as hell to the point of full-body warts, which, according to rat lifespan dot info dot biz, makes him… two to four years old.
He’s journaling about a real bummer of a situation, which is that Jonathan Brisby was killed today while helping with The Plan, and Nicodemus (wart rat) is lost in knowing how to help Jonathan’s young widow, and he doesn’t have much time left to figure it out. He’s not ONE anymore, you know! “Jonathan, wherever you are, your thoughts must comfort them tonight. She will be waiting and you will not return.” Okay, kids, sweet dreams, you’ve got a big day of PRE-SCHOOL TOMORROW.
This is simply not how kids’ movies start anymore! Am I damaged or enhanced by having experienced, at such a young age, Jonathan Brisby’s bereft widow, yoked alone in her wide cold bed? Who can say!
We cut to an aerial view of a farmhouse and pan to a field where the aforementioned small widowed mouse named Mrs. Brisby (does she HAVE a first name!??!!?!??!) is zooming mouselike around inside a broken down harvester looking for her chubby frenemy Mr. Ages, who lives there (idea: live in a hole! this seems dangerous). Eventually she locates him and he’s like yeah yeah sorry your husband, my BEST FRIEND, died five minutes ago but GO AWAY I’M TINKERING. She says she needs his help because her son Timmy is sick and he’s like, “Timmy? The one with the spider bite?” because apparently Timmy is a known frail waif around the Mr. Ages Amateur Mouse Hospital and Death Trap. It’s always something new with this fucking guy!
Can we get a prequel about when Timmy got the spider bite? Proportionally, that’s like if a human got a bite from a VENOMOUS LION!
Mrs. Briz is like yeah that’s the Timmy I mean except it’s not the spider bite this time, now he has some nasty fever that is draining the life from his tiny bones. (After a long day of blocks kids love to jump straight from the dead husband to the almost-dead baby.) Mr. Ages says UGH FINE he’ll fix up a magic powder for Timmy’s fever, on the condition that Timmy stays in bed for three whole weeks and does not move (what about poop and pee??). Mrs. Brisby says, “But moving day is nearly here!” and Mr. Ages is like TOUGH SHIT, which is really not in character for him for the whole rest of the movie?? We get to know him pretty well and he is pretty nice! But okay!
On the way home Mrs. Brisby finds a silly crow named Jeremy (Dom DeLuise) all tangled up in red string that he was using to build a love nest for two. I did an exact recreation of this scene yesterday when I tried to take my dog to the driftwood-strewn beach on a 32’ leash! Jeremy can’t stop singing because he’s trying to attract a girlfriend, and Mrs. Brisby says that if he doesn’t shut up, the farmer’s cat, Dragon, is going to come eat them, which would be terrible news because Jeremy is the best character.
Jeremy plays a prank on Mrs. Brisby and tells her that he can see Dragon coming to eat them so she FREAKS, but it was actually just a rabbit, which is like playing a “prank” on the cops by calling 911 and saying you’re going to do another 9/11! Jeremy is soooooooooooo silly!
Karma is real, though, because then Jeremy says if there really was a cat he would be sneezing his ass off because he’s allergic to caaaaaaaaaaa… he’s allergic to hoooooooooo… he’s allergic to hiiiiiiiiiiiii… [sneezes his ass off!!!!!]
JEREMY IS SO STUPID BECAUSE THEN THE CAT DOES COME AND JEREMY FLIES AWAY AND LEAVES MRS. BRISBY TO GET MUNCHED, and even worse, she DROPS TIMMY’S MEDICINE PACKET IN THE PUDDLE! Ok but to his credit Jeremy comes back and saves her using string.
Dragon is literally so scary! What did cats do to Don Bluth????
Jeremy and Brisby fall in the river and Mrs. Brizz almost drowns but then she rides the waterwheel up and escapes but WHERE IS THE PACKET? TIMMY NEEDS HIS PNEUMONIA POWDER! Now she’s crying bc no packet.
Jeremy shows up to brag about how brave he was while Mrs. Brisby is out of her mind with grief and terror: “Hey, was I great or was I great? Did you see that cat out there all dripping, and wet, with water?” (Posthumous EGOT for Dom DeLuise for EVERY flawless line reading in this movie!) He says they make a good team, and then he hands her Timmy’s medicine like it tisn’t no thing! It isn’t even wet! Good thing Mr. Ages put it in a little coke baggie!
Jeremy: “Do you like me?”
Briz: “Of course I like you!”
Jeremy: “I mean you don’t think I’m clumsy or anything?” [FALLS]
Briz: “If you’re going to feather a nest, you’ve got a lot to learn about how to treat a lady.”
Jerm: “None of the girls I meet want to get serious.”
Jeremy says he wants Mrs. Brisby to give him a few pointers so he can learn to succeed with the ladies. I feel like this kind of advice would not translate cross-species AT ALL. Yeah, Jeremy, just use your tiny paws to wash your little ears and then compliment her incisors! He offers to fly Brisby home but she says she’s afraid of heights, so he walks her home instead even though she said no thanks.
Omg did any among us know that Wil Wheaton and Shannen Doherty are two of the mouse kids?????? I didn’t! My NIMH era was pre-imdb!!
Back at Brizz’s house, Auntie Shrew is poking her nose where she’s not wanted and dumping a lot of emotional baggage on these baby mice who are just trying to keep their brother from dying while maintaining some semblance of a childhood. Auntie Shrew says she’s exhausted from being responsible for the welfare of the entire field. She is the ONLY ONE warning everyone about Moving Day! (Except Mrs. Brisby JUST told Mr. Ages about Moving Day?? I don’t love this victim complex from Auntie Shrew. I’m sure her shrew generation doesn’t believe in shrew therapy but Auntie Shrew needs it!) Oh, btw, Moving Day is a thing once per year when the farmer gets the tractor going and fucks up all the creatures that live in the field. I don’t know what humans call it. The beginning of… planting season? Plow time??? Farmers weigh in!
Mouse child, fruitlessly: “Auntie Shrew, Timmy’s sick.”
Other mouse child: “[Mom] went to see Mr. Ages!”
Auntie Shrew (NOT CARING AT ALL THAT TIMMY’S SICK): “Ages? That old flimflam.”
Who else feels like there’s some history there?!!?!? Hmmmmmmmm??????? (Shrew and Ages fucked!)
One of the mouse children, Martin, says he’s not afraid of the dark, or the farmer, or Dragon, or even the Great Owl, and I admire the cojones but respectfully you should be afraid of all those things! You are the definition of a prey animal! A raindrop is deadly to you!
Auntie Shrew tells Martin to hush up so Martin tells Auntie Shrew to hush up, and then Martin calls Auntie Shrew a bossy bullfrog!!!!
Ahamefule: “So we’ve established that these mice are white based on how they’re talking to their aunt.”
Shrew calls them “impudent piglets,” though, so she got ‘em back. (Again, proportionally, a piglet would be a MONSTER TO THEM!) Then Auntie Shrew falls down the stairs and rips her scarf, so Martin takes the lead again.
Mrs. Brizz arrives and Auntie Shrew informs her that Martin is a brrrrrrrrrrrrat, and then says, “I came here to inform you that the frost is off the ground and Moving Day is at hand. Prepare to move your very, very odd family.” Which Brizz already knew but thanks??
Shrew leaves and Brizz tells the kids not to be so hard on Shrew: “The Shrew means well. She only wants to help.” To her credit, Brizz does not punish Martin for the bossy bullfrog thing. Mrs. Brisby is a real one!
One of the kids is like, “Is Timmy gonna die?” and DANG! Kids just go for it. Brisby breaks it to them that Timmy has pneumonia but luckily she has a packet of powder that a mouse invented, so, don’t even worry about it.
Up at the farmhouse we see some rats stealing an extension cord out of an upstairs window and scuttling down into a hole under a rosebush. Inside the house, the farmer’s wife is like oh, btw, NIMH called, “they were wondering if we noticed anything strange with the rats on the farm… gave me goosebumps like they might have some horrible disease!” They do, Mrs. Fitzgibbons—it’s called LIBERATION.
Mrs. Brisby wakes up the next morning NAKED and hears an engine so she runs out into the field NAKED and sniffs her little snoot. Shrew fuckin’ shows up to gloat about Timmy’s imminent pulverization OF COURSE:
Shrew: “What did I tell you? Moving Day.”
Briz: “It can’t be!… The chill in the air could kill [Timmy].”
Shrew: “Well that tractor surely will.”
Then the farmer gets the tractor going and Auntie Shrew FLIPS OUT. She runs around the field like, RRRUN RRRUN RRRUN FOR YOUR LIVES, THE PLOW IS HEEYA, IT’S MEWVING DAY, RRRUN RRRUN RRRUN. Which, first of all, how is panic helping anyone? Second of all, why are all these animals still here when you warned them yesterday? Doesn’t this happen every year?? Third of all, surely they can hear the tractor louder than a shrew????
All the animals in the field are like oh fuck. Rabbits like oh fuck! Little birds and shit like oh fuck! Toads probably too! Go go go!
THIS MOVIE IS SO SCARY!
Brisby sends the non-Timmy kids off with Auntie Shrew and is like I’ve GOTTA stop that plow! HERE I GOT CHOKED UP BECAUSE SHE IS SO BRAVE. She chases after the plow and climbs up a hose thingy. It’s heading straight for her house where Timmy is asleep, pneumonically. But then Auntie Shrew is brave too! She jumps up there to help using the wisdom and street smarts of age and also the tenacious bitchiness of a shrew! Auntie Shrew cuts the fuel line and stops the tractor! Right before it was going to fuck up Brisby’s house! SEE, FAT PEOPLE ARE ATHLETIC! I forgive her.
Brisby: “He’ll come back tomorrow. I wish Jonathan was here.”
Shrew: “Well, he’s not. Stop it.”
Brisby: “What am I going to do?”
Shrew: “We’ll think of something… The Great Owl would know what to do about this. You must go see him.”
Brisby: “I couldn’t do that. Owls eat mice.”
Shrew: “Well child, show a little courage. We’re fighting for Timmy’s life.”
Okay, but you didn’t give a shit whether Timmy lived or died until literally 30 seconds ago!
Nicodemus is watching them on his big green… TV? He also thinks it’s a good idea to go see the Great Owl, who is his bro.
Brizz flies there on Jeremy, who is nervous but happy to be included.
Brizz: “Owls eat mice.”
Jeremy: “Um, only after dark.”
Jeremy and Mrs. Brisby are such cute best friends!!! You know how internet men are always feigning confusion at the idea of men and women being platonic friends? They should watch some 80s movies about anthropomorphic animals! These two are NOT gonna fuck! Now you may say “this is only because his bird dick is too huge to fit,” but that’s not true!!! Crows don’t even have an external penis, plus there is no erotic vibe here whatsoever! Despite Jeremy being admittedly horny and Mrs. Brisby very single what on account of her husband being eaten alive recently.
Jeremy is like, “that must be the owl’s tree over there,” and the owl’s tree is scary as hell! A mouse absolutely should NOT go in there! Auntie Shrew and Nicodemus are shady for this!
Jeremy’s like, well, the place looks deserted guess we better go (correct) BUT THEN a big voice is like, “Step inside my house.”
Who’s that? Couldn’t be legend of stage and screen John Carradine!
Owl: “Come inside or go away.”
Mrs. Brisby goes in and it’s all cobwebby and gross and full of bones but she’s like, “Timothy. Remember Timothy.” TRULY A SINGLE MOM WHO WORKS TWO JOBS WHO LOVES HER KIDS AND NEVER STOPS!!!
The great owl’s tree is full of MOTHS and this is the first time I ever thought about how scary a moth would be to a mouse! Then there’s a HUGE SPIDER NO THX. We already know that a spider bite contributed to Timmy’s terminal pneumonia! Thx Dr. Fauci!!!
Luckily the great owl squishes the spider with his big foot just in time and then TURNS HIS HEAD OVER and is like can I help you???????
Mrs. Brisby: “The plow has come early this year.”
Great Owl: “Move your family.” (lol)
She’s like um I can’t move my family because Timmy’s sick? So he says then she’s got to move her entire house. He is constantly raining little bones down on her—those are probably HER FRIENDS’ BONES! Then he’s like ok get outta here you chucklehead, I’m busy.
Great Owl: “I must bid you good evening, Mrs….”
Great Owl (YELLING FOR NO REASON): “Brisby? Mrs. Jonathan Brisby?”
Briz: “Why yes, he was my husband, but how did you know about him?”
Great Owl: “His name is not unknown in these woods.”
LMAO, could you imagine if this was how you found out that your husband was friends with THE GREAT OWL?! The Great Owl says she needs to “go to the rats” and have them move her house “to the lee of the stone.” She’s like, “no rat could move my house,” but he’s like “They have ways!” He tells her to go to the rosebush by the farmhouse and ask for Nicodemus.
Then he’s like ok it’s nighttime I gotta go kill and eat EVERYONE YOU KNOW.
Jeremy’s like what did he say and she’s like he said go to the rats and Jeremy says what rats and she just says, in a mysterious voice, “the lee of the stone.” Dude you can’t be enigmatic with Jeremy! He’s very literal!
At the farmhouse the next day Jeremy steals a piece of laundry so he can sneak over to the rosebush to “help” Mrs. Brisby: “I’m in disguise!” Of course Jermy fucks this up royally because he can’t stop sneezing because of Dragon and he gets tangled in the laundry and gets caught on the rosebush and makes soooooo much noise.
Mrs. Brisby: “If you really wanted to help me, you’d go away.” (Harsh!)
Jeremy’s like, I can’t leave you here alone, think of the children! And she’s like THAT’S IT and starts batting her eyelashes and stuff—“Someone strong should be protecting my children in case that tractor starts up again.” So she friendzoned him and now she’s making him watch her kids??? Typical.
Jeremy says he’s ON IT so he leaves but trips over dragon AGAIN on the way out, and then frames Dragon for stealing the laundry!
Inside the rosebush there are weird moving vines and electricity everywhere. Mrs. Brisby goes deeper and deeper. She sees a scary face! And lots of spooky stuff! But then in the heart of it A BEAUTIFUL FLOWER GLADE! It is never explained what that is or who lives there.
But then a SCARY RAT GUARD WITH ELECTRIC SPEAR appears and Brisby’s like, yo, I’m Brisby and I’m here to see Nicodemus? R u him? But the rat is like stab stab stab! He tries to murder her very aggressively! He chases her and it’s actually insane that she doesn’t die! Luckily she is a tiny mouse so she escapes and runs into… Mr. Ages! Whaaaaaat!? He has a broken leg now and he’s like, “how in thunder did you get in here?”
Mrs. Brisby explains that the plow has come early to the field and I can’t move Timmy yadda yadda yadda. She’s like, “I have to see Nicodemus, the owl told me to see Nicodemus.”
And Ages is all YOU SAW WHO??????????????????
Brisby: “I have to see Nicodemus, he’s one of the rats.”
Ages: “More specifically he’s the leader of the rats—NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN THE OWL!!!!” (Respectfully how can that be true if the owl knew Jonathan!?!?!? Omg was Ages excluded from the clique because of ageism!?)
Brisby, reasonably: “What about the large rat at the entrance? I can’t go back there.”
Ages: “Oh, that’s just Brutus.”
And?????? “JUST” BRUTUS? Brutus who just did an attempted murder on her?!!?!!! Take him to rat court!
Meanwhile, Nicodemus is monologuing into his magic mirror: “Mrs. Brisby will serve the rats of NIMH far more than we her. Jenner I fear could do her harm. He is consumed by a lust for power. Thus far, the amulet has remained safely hidden, but if he finds it, heaven help us.” Sure, grandpa, let’s get you to bed!
Now there’s a real abrupt plunge into rat politics.
Ages swears Brisby to secrecy, because if humankind ever found out about the rats having electricity and their own parliament they’d be digging up the rosebush to blow it up. Mrs. Brisby take this all in stride. She loves the electricity: “It’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.”
Then Justin5 the SEXY captain of the rat guards sneaks up on them and is like WHO’S THIS HOTTIE? So this mouse and this rat want to fuck? Is that legal? Did they even have interracial relationships in movies in 1982??
Mrs. Brisby does know how to use her sexuality as a weapon, though, it must be said! She’s into BRC. She wants Justin to give her the Great Howl.
Jeremy explains to Mrs. Brisby that they’ve had electricity for four years now, but some of the rats (the good guys) think that the rats’ great shame is that they STEAL the electricity from the humans. But dude, Farmer Fitzgibbons would KILL YOU WITH A SHOVEL. Be proud that you’re a rat who understands electricity! You deserve the world!
Here Aham and I had an argument about the implications of this anti-stealing subplot. He had never seen Secret of NIMH before and felt like the rats’ obsession with stealing was a clumsily applied expression of Reagan-era moralizing and “welfare state” fear-mongering, and by extension a (racist) indictment of the “wrong” kinds of protest tactics (i.e. violence, property damage, etc). I said I felt like it’s pretty normal, even now, to teach kids that stealing is bad, and that maybe the rats just didn’t want to be dependent on their oppressors, maybe they realized they didn’t have to model their new society on the disaster of humanity, maybe they believed they could build a utopia free from exploitation of every kind? And Aham was like, that’s a nice reading, but that’s literally not what they say in the movie! LOL! Fair enough! I’m convinced. I felt radicalized by this movie as a kid but FOR SURE it would have been way more radical if part of the message was that the rats were justified in any behavior that helped them get free!
They take an elevator which is a lantern that goes underwater (Titan submersible vibes tbh). Then they wedding-crash Rat Parliament where everyone is arguing. Rat Politicians: They’re Just Like Us! Brisby’s like sorry 2 interrupt ur rat meeting and the rats are like it’s fine.
“There blows an ill wind,” says Ages (Nicodemus’s farts).
Justin’s like, uh oh, Jenner’s at it again. Jenner is the evil rat who thinks that stealing is GOOD, ACTUALLY. Ages says the rats need to be careful—Jenner is dangerous and he’ll be the downfall of the rats of NIMH. And now Jenner is attacking Nicodemus openly! Nicodemus wants to do The Plan, which is moving all the rats from the rosebush to someplace called Thorn Valley. But Jenner says The Plan is “A doddering old fool’s fantasy!” (Ok, phew, the doddering old fool’s fantasy is just “rat migration”? I was expecting something way grosser.) What are they gonna DO?
The pro-Nicodemus rats are like, look, if we stay in the rosebush then eventually the humans are going to find us (oh do you think they might notice the EXTENSION CORD you’re running through their open window to power your rat elevator!?!?!) and then they’ll all be exterminated. And then Jenner goes, “Not if we got them first!”
WWWWWWHAT!?!?!? Sorry, Jenner, I’m happy to hear any cogent counter-arguments against Thorn Valley, but your current plan is to MURDER FARMER FITZGIBBONS AND HIS ENTIRE FAMILY? And then, presumably, either stage the scene so it looks like the Fitzgibbonses went off-grid Unabomber-style, OR convincingly impersonate Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgibbons and their children IN PERPETUITY so that no one ever gets suspicious and reports their disappearance to the police??????????? Are you sure “the Thorn Valley plan is the aspiration of idiots and dreamers” but YOUR ONE IS GOOD?
Mr. Ages is like, hey, this is Mrs. Brisby btw, and she needs our help. And some of the rats gasp, but some of them are like SHUT UP WE’RE HAVING A MEETING. lol.
Jenner’s stooge goes, “Jonathan Brisby is DEAD!” as though when someone is dead you don’t have to be nice to their wife anymore??? Hahaha. But then Ages is like, “she has been to see the Great Owl” and the owl wants the rats to move her house so it doesn’t get run over by the plow, so apparently they HAVE TO DO IT. (Like, why? Does the Great Owl have them on retainer?6)
No offense, but it kind of seems like the rats are dealing with bigger issues right now such as a civil war?? Also, here’s an idea: If the rats have the giant-brained rat technology to move an entire cinderblock (I.E. CRANES), then surely they could put on their thinking caps and noggin up a way to move ONE SMALL SICK BOY instead? Don’t move the house, move Timmy!!!!! If you can move Timmy inside of a giant cinderblock and he’s fine, MOVE TIMMY INSIDE OF A SMALLER, LIGHTER BOX.
Jenner’s curvy lil toady is like, “Let the lower creatures fend for themselves!” but Jenner says ixnay, work smarter—this is actually a great opportunity to stage an accident and murder Nicodemus so we can stay in the rosebush and then murder Farmer Fitzgibbons and finally fulfill Jenner’s own doddering fantasy, which is for 150 wiggly rats to fill/animate Farmer Fitzgibbons’s overalls! Yeesh, at least buy him dinner first!
Jenner turns on the charm and says he’s Mrs. Brisby’s humble servant, but Ages is like, “He’s up to something!” Yes, duh. The rats vote yes on moving the Brisby house but Ages is still suspicious and says he’s going to talk to Nicodemus about this.
Meanwhile, Auntie Shrew has somehow managed to subdue and capture Jeremy because “I know you’re in league with those awful rats!” She ties him up (HOW) and he’s like, “you can’t tie me up, there’s a cat,” and she’s like GOOD RIDDANCE. Dude you’re sentencing him to death in a kids movie!? That’s like tying someone to the train tracks!
She tells the kids to watch Jeremy until she can get help. Martin (one of the realest allies around) is immediately like ok let’s untie this guy—remember how mom said she has a crow friend? Jeremy’s like yes yes that’s me I am your mother’s friend! But then Jeremy starts monologuing crazily about how Brizz went to see the rats because “the owl said they’re good and smart” so the kids are like “he’s a loony” and tie him up again lol.
Ages takes Brisby to see Nicodemus and tells her to keep it brief bc Nicodemus could die of old age at any second. She opens the door and it EXPLODES WITH BLUE FIRE. Looks like Nicodemus went to Taco Bell!!!!
Nicodemus says wow an honor to meet Jonathan’s wife and she’s like why does everyone know Jonathan?????? That would be a trip, man. It’s like True Lies! Nicodemus pulls out his diary and tells her to read it. She says, “I can read, a little. Jonathan taught me. The children are better at it than I am.”
Then she reads in the book:
“Jonathan Brisby made possible the rats’ escape from the terrible cruelty of NIMH. He was killed today while drugging the farmer’s cat, Dragon. Oh, I… I never knew just what happened… Why did he never tell me about any of you?”
Nicodemus says that to answer that question he has to explain the whole NIMH thing. He tells her to look in his magic mirror, which plays… what is this? A DVD????
So, turns out, in the beginning they were ordinary street rats who stole their daily bread and lived off the efforts of man’s work. They didn’t have clothes OR eyebrows. They were captured and sent to NIMH where there were many animals in cages being “put through the most unspeakable tortures to satisfy some scientific curiosity.”
Then, FOOTAGE OF ADORABLE PUPPY CRYING. FOOTAGE OF MONKEY FAMILY HUDDLING TOGETHER AND CRYING. IN A KIDS’ MOVIE. “Often at night I’d hear them crying out in anguish.” How am I not vegan?????7
One day at the US government animal torture facility, 20 rats and 11 mice were given special injections and began changing. Their DNA went CRAZY!!!!! “Then, one night, I looked upon the words under the cage door and understood them.” So, the scientists invented an injection that… genetically taught rodents to speak and read English?? What kind of hocus pocus is that!!?!!? And why can Mrs. Brisby and her kids read!?!?!??! I guess maybe the kids inherited the changed DNA but is literacy, like, sexually transmitted???????????????????? You know, when he gave Brizz HER “INJECTION”?
Wait, does this imply the existence of other supergenius animals???? Can that dog talk!??!?! Is there a brainiac monkey family running a restaurant somewhere? When the strike is over can a movie studio hire me to write this spin-off?
Anyhoo, the mouses and rats read the instructions for how to open their own cage doors and escaped down the ventilation system. But the mice were too small and frail to hang on! They were “sucked down dark air shafts to their deaths. All except two: Jonathan and Mr. Ages.” Again, have fun at pre-school tomorrow. The rest of them come to a locked door and are trapped but luckily Jonathan is small enough to squeeze through and unlock it! He freed them all!
Then we find out that Nicodemus can do magic btw. He gives Brizz a red necklace with the inscription “you can unlock any door if you only have the key” and then he says that “when worn by one with a courageous heart the stone glows red and becomes a blinding radiance.” Oh, sure. And then he’s like, “courage of the heart is very rare, the stone has a power when it’s there.” Okay… Does NIMH have an injection that makes rats less cryptic?
Nicodemus says sorry babe, “Jonathan couldn’t tell you about NIMH because the injections slowed the aging process. You would have grown old while he remained young.” Isn’t that more of a reason TO tell her????
Meanwhile Jenner and Jenner’s crony are being evil.
Jenner: “With Nicodemus out of the way, what’s to stop us from taking over?”
Crony: “Jenner, you can’t kill Nicodemus.”
Jenner’s like whoa whoa whoa I’m not going to KILL Nicodemus, I’m just going to drop the Brisby house on top of Nicodemus and crush his bones, ok?? Then we can keep living in the rose bush, it’ll be great.
Now Justin and Brizz and Nicodemus are in a subterranean gondola under the mill. Justin explains that they have to go drug the cat so he doesn’t eat them while they’re moving the house. Then they can proceed with The Plan.
Justin: “It’s wrong to take electricity from the farm.”
Nicodemus: “We can no longer live as rats. We know too much.”
Mrs. Brisby, BAFFLINGLY, volunteers to be the one who goes in and drugs Dragon’s food, the exact way her husband just died!!!!! Ma’am, you are a single parent!
Nicodemus says they’ll wait until dark while she goes and prepares the children for the move. So Nicodemus is just going to sit in this boat for hours and hours? Doesn’t his back hurt?
Brisby’s on her way home and runs into Jeremy who is wearing a lily pad as a hat and breathing through a reed bc Auntie Shrew is chasing him. Despite urgent peril all around, Jeremy is distracted by the necklace.
Jeremy: “A sparkly! You’re wearing a sparkly! I just thought I’d mention in passing, I’ve always wanted a sparkly of my very own.” (It’s cute because he’s a crow and that IS what they like!)
Brisby says, “Jeremy, listen, I need lots and lots of string,” and Jeremy says he has lots and lots of string because he’s been saving it for his sex nest. She tells him to go get it and drop it off at her house.
In the floorboards under the farmhouse, Justin shows Mrs. Brizz how to get into the kitchen and where to put the powder. He tells her to leave her cape (her ONLY CLOTHING) because it “could get caught on something.” He just wants to see her naked!
Dragon is outside but he’s yowling to get in!!! Brizz is like idk if I can do this, but girl, the bowl is not even far. It’s like 18 inches from your mouse hole! She runs over to the bowl in a WILD PANIC and manages to get the powder in there but then just as she turns back she gets CAUGHT BY A BOY AND PUT IN A BIRDCAGE. Dang!!!!!
Coincidentally, NIMH calls Farmer Fitzgibbons who just looks like a doof (banality of evil alert!!!) and says they’re going to come 2morrow to bulldoze the rosebush and get those sons of bitch rats. Brisby, listening from her cage, is like I gotta warn the rats!
Meanwhile, the rats show up at Mrs. Brisby’s house to move it using a complex system of pulleys, even though they must know that she is CURRENTLY MISSING. I guess it’s nice that they’re honoring their commitment even though she’s not there, but how about rescue HER using a complex system of pullies!?
Inside the cinderblock it’s CHAOS. All the furniture and all the kids are flying around breaking ALL their bones. Nobody even knocked on the door to let Auntie Shrew and the children know this is happening???? How is this BETTER for Timmy than being gently wrapped in a blanket and carried a few feet away? Outside, Jenner is surveying the scene and LOVING IT. Nicodemus is standing right under the house! Ka-ching!
Meanwhile, Mrs. Brisby is liberating herself! She figures out that she can swim through the water bowl and escape! That’s a #slay #girlboss!
When the Brisby house is fully dangling and ready to swing, Jenner goes to cut the rope but his craven crony FINALLY listens to his conscience and says NO! Except Jenner does it anyway and the house falls in the mud AND on Nicodemus! Screw you, Jenner!
Nicodemus is under the rubble. He gone. Justin says oh no.
Brisby escapes and then rappels down to the floor even though we established earlier that she is afraid of heights. She is so brave!! She makes it back to the mousehole in the floor and scampers for home, where Jenner is doing psy-ops.
Jenner (pretend sad): “Friends, we cannot move the Brisby home.”
Ages: “We can’t just leave it here in the mud.”
NO ONE HAS CHECKED TO MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN INSIDE SURVIVED THE TWO-STORY FALL.
Jenner’s like, look, I know this sucks, we all REALLY wanted to move the Brisby home, ooh I wanted it so bad!!, but we just can’t go to Thorn Valley at this point. But right at his climax, Brisby shows up to warn them about NIMH! “You will all die unless you leave the farm tonight.” Jenner’s like uuuuuuuuuuggghhh, shut UP! I’m DOING SOMETHING!
Then Jenner, really taking it to 11, tries to kill Brisby with a wiggly sword! Justin defends her but he only has a stick! And also Jenner wants the necklace for some reason!
Jenner slashes his now EX-friend, who tries to intervene, and someone throws Justin his real sword so we watch two rats sword fight. Where did they GET swords? If you got injected with human-size magic brain juice, why not blast past rat blacksmiths and invent rat gun factories?
Justin: “You did it. You killed Nicodemus! That was no accident!”
Jenner: “I’ve learned this much. Take what you can when you can.”
Justin: “Then you’ve learned nothing.”
Justin stabs Jenner and Jenner dies and then Justin gives a big speech: “Friends, tonight we journey to Thorn Valley. We will leave no tracks. No evidence that the rats of NIMH ever existed.” At no point has anyone explained what or where Thorn Valley is, why humans will never find it, or how the rats are going to generate their own electricity once they get there, but I’m sure it’s all there in the rat minutes from the rat meetings!
Except oops Jenner is not dead and he’s climbing up behind Justin to do murder! With his dying act Jenner’s little frenemy throws a little dagger into Jenner’s back! I love when easily manipulated little fat boys are redeemed! That’s my type!
Brisby goes trudging home and the kids are like, “Mother, are we almost moved?” and she’s like, “Soon now,” but then THE HOUSE STARTS TO BE SINKING!!!!! The house is filling up with mud! This fucking sucks!
The rats hop to it. They try to reattach the pulleys to the house but it’s all messed up what on account of Jenner and his wiggly knife. It is very stressful. The children are literally drowning in mud. Timmy is in the other room, somehow STILL ASLEEP.
Then the block completely sinks under the mud, AND Mrs. Brisby loses her necklace. This is not her day. Justin pulls her to safety and she is absolutely losing it over her four children drowning in mud, which I guess you would.
Necklace! The necklace levitates up out of the mud like what??????8
Courage of the heart is very rare! The stone has a power when it’s there! And boy howdy is it there when Mrs. Brizz is around! She grabs the stone even though it’s on fire now and it burns her hands but she doesn’t care! She GOTTA get these kids to the lee of the stone! She clutches the necklace and thinks real hard (and it’s a little bit sexual?????) and the Brisby house magically floats up out of the mud and flies over to the other side of the stone and everyone is saved and Mrs. Brisby goes to sleep right there on the ground in the middle of all the rats. Now Timmy is awake finally! And Jeremy shows up with hella string! 2 LITTLE 2 LATE WERM-JERM.
Jeremy is once again asking if he can have the sparkly for his future wife and Mrs. Brisby is like no I gave it to Justin and he’s like WTF are u trying to do to me do u want me to NEVER get laid? Jeremy starts to get down on himself—“What’s a guy like me gonna do with a love nest anyway”—but just then another bird crashes into him!
Mouse baby: “Look, mommy, another turkey.”
It’s a second idiot crow, but a girl this time! They are instantly in love and they fly away to play with the string IN BED. Cute!
One of the kids asks, “Did the rats really go to Thorn Valley?” and Mrs. Brisby says yep and maybe we’ll see them again someday.
OH OK BYE MOVIE.
“[The bourgeiousie] has resolved personal worth (antlers) into exchange value (all of its decorating), and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms (four dozen eggs, to help the proletariat get large), has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade (five dozen eggs, to grow capital to roughly the size of a barge).” - Karl Marx
Nobody ever talks about Blackbeard’s Ghost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (enchanted suits of armor and a loose boot kicking a Nazi in the butt: the real heroes of WW2)
Pete’s Dragon (kids love small-town lighthouse politics!)
Jodi Foster Freaky Friday (“I’ll oooooonly be a mooooooment, Booooooris!”)
Hayley Mills Parent Trap (I kept the video store in business on this one alone)
Swiss Family Robinson (due to woke mind virus we can no longer stan)
Pollyanna (if everything else was checked out)
fandom name: NIMHrods
The fact that we have Jonathan, Jeremy, and Justin in this movie is outrageous. Remembering which one is which should be a new beta puzzle at NYT Games. On that note, BOOOOOO to getting rid of Digits! I liked it!
Any day now, I’m telling you. A cow is a dog and a pig is EVEN MORE OF A DOG.
Somehow I have never read the original book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, but I read the Wikipedia synopsis and apparently this magic necklace subplot does not exist, which I think was the correct choice! Sorry! Why do a whole elaborate science-and-electricity-based setup and then have a magic necklace save the day!? And also in the book Nicodemus doesn’t die and they don’t drop the house and Jenner isn’t really that big of a deal and her name is Frisby not Brisby but they had to change it so Big Frisbee didn’t sue.