Secret of NIMH [1982]

A huge letdown after the grandeur of Don Bluth's 1982 adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's book (this was the first feature Bluth made after leaving Disney to protest the studio's allegedly lowered animation standards), this straight-to-video sequel offers far poorer art and thinner characterizations. The story finds Timmy (voiced by Ralph Macchio), son of the Jonathan Brisby character from The Secret of NIMH, leaving the family farm and heading to Thorn Valley, where the rats of NIMH live. There, Timmy seeks a path in his father's footprints to become a hero and meets a girl mouse who tells him her parents are among some NIMH mice wrongly presumed dead for years. A rescue ensues, of course, in which Timmy and the refugee rats risk getting caught themselves. The film is about an hour in length, and genuine entertainment is at a premium in this production, making it even harder to ignore point-by-point comparisons between NIMH 2 and its predecessor--especially when those comparisons, time and again, find the sequel wanting. The very best element here is the vocal and singing performance by Eric Idle as the villain, Martin, who resorts to electric shock to "improve" his intelligence and whose song, "Just Say Yes," is a real highlight. --Tom Keogh

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