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What 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.
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What's the story?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what older kids have had to give up as they've grown up, such as their blankets and childish toys. How did Omri deal with the loss of his friends at the end of The Indian in the Cupboard?
Families may want to discuss how they make their friends feel cherished every day. How did Little Bear express his love for Omri?
- In theaters: July 14, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: August 22, 1997
- Cast: Hal Scardino, Richard Jenkins, Steve Coogan
- Director: Frank Oz
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Integrity
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements
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