A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn a little about Iroquois history and culture as well as the relationship between cowboys and Indians in the 1800s, plus a bit about WWI.
Little Bear helps Omri learn that friendship, responsibility, and sacrifice are part of being independent. Additional themes are compassion and integrity.
Positive Role Models
Omri is a gentle, compassionate boy with typical issues related to siblings and growing independence. He cares greatly for Little Bear and takes good care of him, eventually realizing that he needs to let go of him so he can return to his own life. Parents appear supportive, and Omri has a trusted friend, Patrick. Omri takes his brother's and father's possessions without asking, but he later makes amends.
Violence & Scariness
Little Bear and Boone duel with guns and arrows on their first encounter. By accident, the cowboy Boone is shot in the chest with an arrow, though he later recovers. An older Indian dies from an apparent heart attack when brought to life by Omri's magic cupboard. Omri is accosted by a bigger boy who takes his money. Little Bear must go beneath the floorboards where a rat lives. The rat lunges, but is soon captured. Disturbed by his brothers' presence in his room, Omri lashes out by kicking their pet rat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief glimpse of Motley Crue music video "Girls" with gyrating, scantily clad women. Boone makes a slightly lascivious comment. Discussion about Little Bear's need for a wife.
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"Hell," "damn," and "ass" occasionally used by adults.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Indian in the Cupboard is a tender and compelling fantasy about friendship and compassion that tweens will thoroughly enjoy. It does have some potentially upsetting moments: the 9-year-old boy grieves when he brings an aging figure to life who subsequently suffers a fatal coronary. Little Bear (the Indian in the title) explains that he is mourning his wife. Both Little Bear and Boone (a cowboy) explain to Omri that it is time for them to find wives and have children. Little Bear and Boone fight before becoming friends and one scene shows a violent massacre of Native Americans on TV, which causes Little Bear to shoot Boone with an arrow, though he later recovers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This film comes to life with help from E.T. veteran Melissa Mathison's script and the technical wizardry of Industrial Light and Magic of Star Wars renown. (It's no coincidence that Omri briefly brings to life Darth Vader.) The illusion of The Indian in the Cupboard is magical, bringing together a wistful school boy and miniature warrior in delightful detail. The friendship between young Omri and the mature Little Bear is a journey of self-discovery and growth. The strength of the film is Little Bear, played by Litefoot, who teaches Omri about the pain of personal loss, and the responsibility that is part of growing up. "Boo Hoo" Boone, the crying cowboy, is a foil for the stoic Little Bear and provides comic relief reminiscent of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
Though a wonderful film for children, anyone who likes a good story will be satisfied. Viewers familiar with the novel may be disappointed that several key characters are left out of the screen version. But overall, The Indian in the Cupboard offers a fine example of a book adaptation.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.