Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Men
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Women: 4.5 Stars
Mrs. Brisbee’s impressive strength comes from her unwavering dedication to her children. And while the concept of the heroic mother has become something of a cultural staple, there's still a need for this kind of recognition and celebration of the devotion of mothers. Mrs. Brisbee braves tractors, owls, cats and a rosebush full of rats to save her son. Not only is her courage is commendable, but she's motivated by only the purest of intentions.
Gender Roles - Men: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
The rats of NIMH were once prisoners in a science lab, where they were injected with a serum that made them intelligent. They've evolved to the point that they can no longer justify living in the rosebush and stealing electricity from the farmer. They've developed morals, and pride and a collective longing for independence. The rats hold council and work together - with the exception of Jenner, who prefers brute strength to negotiation. But Nicodemus, Justin and the other rats of NIMH welcome Mrs. Brisbee into the fold without question. They share their secret history with her and offer to help her in any way they can - never suggesting that her struggles to care for her children are too insignificant to interrupt their grand plans.
Plot: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
Mrs. Brisbee’s journey begins as a means of saving her child’s life, but over the course of her adventure she discovers a promising new world full of books, electricity and magic. Mrs. Brisbee is intrigued by the knowledge that the rats share with her and finds a new courage and curiosity in herself.
In the end, even the rats, with their superior intellect, are unable to save Mrs. Brisbee's home or Timothy's life. It turns out to be Mrs. Brisbee’s rare heart that provides the strength to move her house and rescue her children.
Given the rich history associated with the rats in the rosebush, The Secret of NIMH could have easily been a tale about how Jonathan Brisbee freed himself and the rats from the tyranny of the science lab. But thankfully, this film remains focused on Mrs. Brisbee's heroic quest to save Timmy's life.
Character Development: 4 Stars
Mrs. Brisbee begins the film as a meek character who’s afraid of heights and is quiet and timid even with Mr. Ages. As circumstances worsen however, she finds the strength to fly to the home of the great owl and request his help. By the end of the film, she is courageous enough to volunteer to drug the farmer’s cat, even though there are others that might have made the attempt in her place.
Unfortunately, the film doesn't spend much time addressing how Mrs. Brisbee learned of her husband's death, how she feels about the secrets he's kept from her, or how she's managed to carry on in his absence. Some of this background information might have made her an even more heroic figure, but she easily earns our admiration without it.