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Movie Review

Imagine owning a cabinet that can bring the toys placed inside to life. For one boy, that fantasy becomes reality in The Indian in the Cupboard, due to land on video store shelves this month.

Omri receives an heirloom for his ninth birthday. It seems like an ordinary cupboard. But when he puts a toy indian brave inside, what emerges is the living, breathing Little Bear—who has been plucked from a real existence somewhere in time and transported to the present in miniature—without the aid of ancient myths, magic spells or occult references.

Omri quickly discovers that this fun trick carries various responsibilities. Helping Little Bear gather the resources he needs to survive. Protecting his friend from household pets. Mediating when the Indian and a toy cowboy named Boone don't get along. In essence, he discovers what it's like to be a parent. Omri also learns about death after an old Indian passes away while in his world.

Another primary theme involves respecting others. When a playmate decides the secret is too good not to share, Omri scolds him, fearing for the toys' safety ("You can't use people!"). Little Bear shows similar restraint when he stops Omri from bringing a squaw to life for him, not wishing to separate the woman from her intended existence. He chooses loneliness over selfishness. Also, Boone and Little Bear learn to respect each other, and Omri reads books about the Iroquois to understand his Native American friend better.

A few incidents of mild profanity ("h---," "d--n," "horse's a--") and Boone's use of tobacco and alcohol are unfortunate. Brief scenes of televised violence and scantily clad women in a music video are never truly appropriate, but the film tastefully uses both to point out the thin line between fantasy and reality. These drawbacks may cause families with young children to pass.

However, parents of preteens can choose to talk through these moments and take advantage of what is, overall, a warm tale filled with worthwhile discussion material.

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Hal Scardino, Lindsay Crouse, Litefoot, David Keith, Rishi Bhat


Frank Oz ( )




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Bob Smithouser

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