‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH’ Is Getting a Brand New Adaptation
If you were raised in the ‘80s, you likely remember Don Bluth’s classic animated film The Secret of NIMH. The film, based on the Robert C. O’Brien book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, was surprisingly solemn and a bit dark for an animated kids movie, which is part of what made it so special. That adaptation wasn’t entirely faithful to the source material, but it’s still quite a treasure. MGM has now secured the rights to O’Brien’s book, with plans to adapt it into a new series of films (yes, more than one) taking us back into the world of Mrs. Frisby and friends.
According to Deadline, the new series of NIMH films will have a script by Ice Age 5 writer Michael Berg, with Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger producing. Kruger is known best for his writing work on the Transformers and Ring franchises, which isn’t the best vote of confidence, but he’s clearly got an eye for darkly magical stories—he’s also attached to write a mini-series based on Stephen King’s The Talisman.
The new NIMH movies will be a hybrid of CGI and live-action, similar to the new Chipmunks and Smurfs movies—a curious decision, and one that doesn’t make me any less skeptical. The first film will be “an origin story in which an imperiled mouse protagonist befriends a comical crew of lab rats as they turn hyper-intelligent. They escape a secret laboratory and become the great minds of vermin civilization, forced to outwit the humans hot on their tails.”
That definitely seems more comical than O’Brien’s book and Bluth’s adaptation. The original novel centers on Mrs. Frisby, a single mother-rat with four rat children, who must move her family to their summer living space quickly in the face of an encroaching, deadly threat. Unfortunately, her youngest son Timothy has pneumonia and cannot be moved. That’s when the highly intelligent breed of rats known as the Rats of NIMH come to her aid.
“Comical crew of lab rats who turn hyper-intelligent” isn’t quite on the level of O’Brien’s story, and seems to be reaching for something more contemporary. O’Brien’s daughter wrote two sequels to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, although it’s unclear whether this new film series will stick to those stories or create new ones.