the colonial theatre marquee

The Secret of NIMH

“In her final role, Oscar nominee Elizabeth Hartman voices Mrs. Brisby, a timid field mouse fiercely devoted to her farm-dwelling family. When her youngest son becomes too sick to move from a field about to be destroyed by spring plowing, Mrs. Brisby seeks the help of the local rat community, which turns out to have ties to her late husband. Director Don Bluth and company threw in a lot of extra comedy business involving a clumsy crow voiced by Dom DeLuise (in a commentary on the film’s new “family fun edition,” Bluth and Goldman admit that they added most of DeLuise’s scenes because they enjoyed his take on the character), and they pack a lot of fuzzy-headed mysticism and weird fantasy tropes into what used to be a simple story, but the visuals are splendid. Bluth’s team painted each background with a fantastic wealth of depth, detail, texture, and heft. They gave their characters shadows and reflections, keyed each scene for different lighting tones and mood-setting color palettes, and designed vivid lighting effects that literally make the movie sparkle. Compared to modern animated films, “NIMH” moves at a lackadaisical pace; the main villain doesn’t even appear until an hour in, and Bluth is content to let characters spend time slowly wandering through lush settings and complicated scenery. Later Bluth films†”An American Tail,” “The Land Before Time,” “All Dogs Go To Heaven”†would gradually step up the pace and tone down the quality, but “NIMH” looks like an animator’s showcase, a joyous “Look what we can do!” Even at its most narratively unbalanced, it’s well worth drinking in at leisure.” (Tasha Robinson, The Onion A.V. Club)