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Still shot from the movie: The Indian In The Cupboard.

The Indian In The Cupboard

Omri (Hal Scardino) is a young boy who receives an unusual present at his birthday: An old cupboard that magically transforms plastic toys into small human beings.

Overall Grade: A-
Violence: B
Sexual Content: A-
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 14 Jul 1995
Run Time: 96
MPAA Rating: PG


In-Depth Review

Omri (Hal Scardino) is a young boy who receives an unusual present at his birthday: An old cupboard that magically transforms plastic toys into small human beings. At first, Omri simply sees this as a way to add new life to his tiny toys, however he soon discovers that these miniature beings present responsibilities and challenges he never dreamed of.

Don't be fooled by the toys included with this video. What seems to be a children's story actually offers many ideas that are just as relevant to adults. The sanctity of life, no matter what shape or size; respect for others and the way they live in spite of our personal prejudices; an appreciation for freedom to choose our own destiny; and how our actions can effect the lives of all those around us are just a few of the themes explored in this film.

Each of the little characters come from a different social background and place in history. With the help of a parent, children can be assisted in understanding why the characters interact the way they do. Parents should be prepared to offer a knowledge of the fate of the Iroquois Indians, why a British soldier fighting in the First World War would rather be dreaming, and how white settlers felt about the native people they found on this continent.

Some scenes may be disturbing for younger children. Little Bear, the tiny Indian, shoots Boone the cowboy with an arrow while watching a violent western on television. Later, in probably the most frightening scene, Little Bear risks his life against the family's pet rat to save Boone. Language is limited to minor profanities, and the only moment with questionable sexual content is a rock video Omri and his friend watch on television.

The realistic portrayal of children in this movie (thanks mainly to Scardino's natural abilities to look and sound like a real child) and the sensitive script help make The Indian In The Cupboard a worthwhile entertaining and educational experience for the entire family.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Overall: A-
A young boy is amazed after receiving a small cupboard with a special key for his birthday, and discovers it can bring anything to life that’s placed inside. Bringing an Iroquois Indian and a western cowboy to life, he and his friend begin to realize they are becoming responsible for something far greater than a toy.

Violence: B
Pigeon briefly attacks box containing small Indian—blood later seen on Indian’s legs as a result of the attack, but audience does not see the attack. An old Indian dies from shock. Young boy steals another boy’s money by bumping him on the street. Boy kicks an animal exercise ball, containing a pet rat, down stairs. Various toys come alive in miniature and briefly begin fighting with each other. Cowboy with gun and Indian with bow and arrow fight each other—Indian eventually shoots off cowboy’s hat with arrow. Miniature cowboy with tiny gun shoots full-size boy inflicting very minor injury. Young boys begin verbally arguing in school hallway, requiring a teacher to calm them down. Brief images of native people getting shot by white men in a western movie seen on television. Man is shot with arrow.

Sexual Content: A-
Young boys briefly watch scantily clad girls dancing suggestively in a music video on television. Indian is dressed in traditional attire, which exposes all of his upper body and most of his legs.

Language: B+
At least: 10 mild profanities and 2 terms of Deity used as expletives or profanities.

Alcohol / Drug Use: B-
Cowboy, appearing somewhat drunk, talks about not drinking another drop. Cowboy talks about needing a drink. Cowboy smokes cigarette twice. Cowboy speaks of whiskey. Cowboy refers to “tornado juice,” meaning alcoholic drink. Army medic recommends an injured person take a drop of brandy, injured man excitedly asks if he heard someone say something about brandy.

Home Video Notes

Revisiting Indian In The Cupboard on DVD, I found myself loving this movie even more. Of course the DVD offers everything you would expect—wide screen picture, beautiful colors, additional information regarding the production of the movie, and an enlightening director’s commentary by Frank Oz—which after having listened to it, makes you appreciate the work involved in this production made on the cusp of the digital cinema revolution. The only disappointment was the lack of a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, yet the standard Dolby Surround offering (still recorded digitally of course) gave bright presence to Randy Edelman’s incredible score.

DVD Release Information:

  • Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
  • Theatrical release date: July 14, 1995
  • DVD release date: July 3, 2001
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Production company: Columbia/Tristar Studios
  • Package type: Keep case
  • Aspect ratios: Two sided disc with Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1 on one side and Full Screen (standard) 1.33:1 on the other
  • DVD encoding: Region 1
  • Available audio tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Available subtitles: English, Spanish, French
DVD Extras:
  • Commentary by director Frank Oz
  • Photo gallery of production stills from movie
  • Filmographies for key production personnel
  • Theatrical trailers for other movies

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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