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Indian in the Cupboard

"Indian in the Cupboard" on DVD

Toy Story, too.

Though it sports a now-politically incorrect title (Shouldn't it be "The Aboriginal in the Cupboard?"), this is an entertaining fantasy from director Frank Oz and screenwriter Melissa Mathison.

Omri is turning nine years of age and for his birthday receives a rather strange gift of an old wooden cupboard. It turns out, however, that this is no ordinary cupboard because toys you put into it come to life when the key is turned in its lock.

Well, doesn't Omri get keyed up here! Another gift is a plastic aboriginal, er, Indian given to him by a friend of Indian (real Indian, not aboriginal) descent (hey, we didn't start this politically correct claptrap!) which when the cupboard's magic is worked on it becomes a miniature real life Iroquois warrior called Little Bear (played by Litefoot). Neither little Little Bear or big little kid Omri really know what's going on, but they become friends anyway.

Then Omri's Indian-American friend Patrick, who gave him the plastic American Indian in the first place, gets into the act and brings to life a rootin' tootin' six gun wielding cowboy (David Keith). Well doesn't that turn their little game of cowboys and Indians on its tiny little ear!

The Indian in the Cupboard isn't a really great movie, especially considering the talent behind the camera: Frank Oz has directed some very entertaining movies, including "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Bowfinger" while Mathison is famed for having written Steven Spielberg's "ET the Extraterrestrial" and producers Kennedy and Marshall (the latter of whom is also a director) worked for many years with Speilberg. Still it's entertaining enough, and suitable for adults and children alike. There's only mild violence, and the subject matter can encourage kids to think about such heavy topics as the plight of Native Americans, the differences between reality and fantasy, friendship, bullies and the like.

Hal Scardino is good as Omri. He has an "everykid" look and doesn't seem too precious for his own good. The other performances are also quite believable, even the little people. The film's special effects, where live people are made to look small - while other live people are made to look gigantic (depending on the perspective of the character) are very well done.

The DVD is digitally mastered, with anamorphic widescreen video on one side and Pan&Scan on the other. Video quality is very good. Audio is offered in Dolby Surround (not 5.1), and the sound is also very good.

Extras include a director's commentary track, photo gallery, talent files, bonus trailers, and production notes.

The Indian in the Cupboard, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
96 min, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible/Pan&Scan, Dolby Surround
Starring Hal Scardino, Litefoot, Lindsay Crouse, Richard Jenkins, Rishi Bhat, and David Keith
Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Jane Startz
Written by Melissa Mathison, Directed by Frank Oz


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Updated May 13, 2006