The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

Length: 1Hr 38

Rating: PG

About: On his birthday, Omri (Hal Scardino) is given several simple gifts, including an old wooden cupboard and a small plastic figurine of a Native American man. When he locks the toy inside the cabinet it magically comes to life as a tiny, cagey warrior named Little Bear (Litefoot). The boy then places other toys in the cupboard and they too come to life, even engaging in entertaining battles. But after Little Bear is wounded, Omri begins to understand that his animate toys are not mere playthings.

First Thoughts

This was my birthday film when I was 10. Upon watching it today, I really do wonder why I chose this to watch. Turns out, I’d had quite a month in the cinema and The Indian in the Cupboard would have been my 6th outing in December. Quite incredible really; I don’t remember seeing quite so many in such a short space of time.

The Good

There’s some deep and meaningful themes within the story that appear to be pulled from the book from which the film is adapted. From exploring responsibility to death and funeral rituals, it’s an easily passive education.

The way in which the film has mastered the perspectives to have the actors as different sizes still stands and I’d say it’s better than films like the Burrowers, which had a larger budget.

It’s quite nice spotting Steve Coogan in a role of humanised toy soldier many years before becoming Octavian in Night at the Museum.

The Bad and the Ugly

Its an odd sort of kid’s film. The plot is rather slow, overly serious and somber for younger viewers, while adults probably would rather check out Mannequin than watch this anxiety riddled kid play with plastic made human.

It’s rather slow in a way that makes it feel overly long. Part of it is to do with the role of Omri; there’s no real development of his character other than him deciding to no longer use the cupboard. I’d have liked to have seen him become a more confident child. By lacking a significant development, it subdues what should be an uplifting ending.

Final Thoughts

It was nice to watch this film again, but I can see why I’ve not rushed to see it again.

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