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Why Can’t Mrs. Frisby Catch a Break?

Poor Mrs. Frisby. Looks like Bedrock Studios is the latest studio to disrespect her name.

The hero of Robert C. O’Brien’s classic children’s novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH never gets any credit. When Don Bluth’s extravagant animated adaptation hit theaters, her name had been dropped from the title. Now it was just The Secret of NIMH.

But that’s not all. In the movie, her name had been changed to Mrs. Brisbie!

Why? According to Wikipedia, the name was changed “to avoid potential objections from the makers of the frisbee, Wham-O.” Huh. Really? It’s spelled differently in the book. And the book is already published and beloved!

Now, word arrives that Bedrock Studios is working on an adaptation of the same book. But they’ve chewed off Mrs. Frisby’s name! If the article is accurate, the movie will be called Rats of NIMH*. (Hmm. Is it uncool to have “Mrs.” in the title? Not sexy enough? Or does the name Frisby remind kids of this guy? I doubt it.)

I mean… why not stick with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? Or just Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? Or just… Frisby? Think of the merchandising possibilities!

I’m worried. Is it just that Rats of NIMH sounds more dangerous? In that case, maybe they’ll change The Hobbit to The Dragon Smaug.

And look! Bedrock is producing A Wrinkle in Time. Wouldn’t The Three Witches be more menacing? Or perhaps they should just make a reference to the story’s villain, which would be simple and catchy:  It.

* The story actually shows the title to be Rats of NIMH at Paramount. But I assume somebody just got the italics wrong.
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Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is an author and a teacher. His books include a cinematic memoir (Through a Screen Darkly, Regal, 2007) and a four-volume fantasy epic (The Auralia Thread, Random House, 2007-11). For more than 15 years he has lectured at universities, conferences, and churches in the U.S. and abroad. His writing on faith and art, recognized by The New Yorker and indieWire, has been published in Christianity Today and Image (where he has been a columnist); and in Books & Culture, Comment, Paste, and more. He's earning a masters in creative writing at SPU. Want to invite him to teach or speak about creative writing or cinema? Email

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