The Indian in the Cupboard

Movie review by
Rafael Munsi, Common Sense Media
The Indian in the Cupboard Movie Poster Image
Classic, heartwarming fantasy will rivet kids.
  • PG
  • 1995
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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.

Sexy Stuff

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.


"Hell," "damn," and "ass" occasionally used by adults.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKristi2222 April 2, 2014

just a disturbing omission in reviews

This movie is very engaging for kids, and i agree with many other reviewers. I do find it surprising that none of the reviews seem to mention that one profane... Continue reading
Adult Written byawesomemeerkat July 9, 2020

Perfect for family movie night!

Are you're looking for a film that won't scare a very young audience but will be entertaining at the same time? If yes, then this is the movie! The mo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byArwen Baggins August 25, 2020

Only Three Stars

This movie is all right, but the book is much better, and the movie strays so far from it, it is hard for me to really enjoy this film.

I will list some thing... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymurdermystery March 28, 2020


THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD is filled with positive messages, but parents should know that there are low scary scenes.

What's the story?

In this film adaption of THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, the popular book by Lynne Reid Banks, a young boy receives a magical cupboard and key that bring to life an 18th century Iroquois warrior who's all of three inches tall.

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?

  • How do the characters in The Indian in the Cupboard demonstrate compassion and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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