The Secret of NIMH is a richly animated and skillfully structured film created by former Disney animators Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. As craft, their first feature film is certainly an homage to the best of an age ago. Every character moves fluidly and imaginatively against an extravaganza of detailed background and dazzling effects, all emboldened by fascinating colored textures.
The story is simple. A mother mouse (voiced by Elizabeth Hartman) is simply trying to find a new home for her brood before the old one is destroyed by spring plowing. Her task is complicated by the severe illness of a son, too sick to move.
Beyond that, the layers pile high. On the light side there’s the comedy of Dom DeLuise as a clumsy crow who tries to help. At the worst are a pack of rats led for good and ill by Derek Jacobi, Peter Strauss and Paul Shenar, all influenced by some modern-day sci-fi mind-bending, mixed with old-fashioned sorcery. John Carradine also serves well as a menacing but helpful great owl, full of wisdom and woe.