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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

Novelist and critic Jeffrey Overstreet teaches writing (Seattle Pacific University) and film studies (Northwest University and Houston Baptist University). He's written a memoir of moviegoing and faith (Through a Screen Darkly, Baker, 2007) and a fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread, Random House, 2007-11). He's worked since 2001 as a film critic and columnist at Christianity Today, and he's been a regular contributor to Image, Paste, and Christ & Pop Culture. His writing has been recognized by The New Yorker and The Seattle Times. He regularly speaks at universities, conferences, and churches in the U.S. and abroad. Want to invite him to teach or speak? Email