Actors: Rishi Bhat, Lindsay Crouse, Litefoot, Steve Coogan, Richard Jenkins
Director: Frank Oz
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: French, English
Region: Region A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Run Time: 96 minutes
I didn’t much like The Indian in the Cupboard when it came out, and I found it somewhat tiresome to watch 20-years later. Part of the problem with this unfortunate children’s book adaptation is that it came out the same year as a far more exciting and successful adaptation: Jumanji. The Indian in the Cupboard, by comparison, is slow-paced and unfortunately cast. While Jumanji had the performance from a young Kirsten Dunst, The Indian in the Cupboard has the awkward Hal Scardino, whose credits ended soon after this performance. Even with Frank Oz as the director, there is no sense of humor and minimal excitement to make this movie memorable or even enjoyable.
This was one of those movies that seemed set up for success, including collaboration by many writers and producers who had worked on E.T. together. Then again, it had the established structure of the book that it was adapting, which had only brief moments of excitement to begin with. Add to that a handful of unconvincing child actors and it is no wonder that The Indian in the Cupboard is so forgetful, not to mention horribly outdated and slightly offensive (or at the very least, culturally insensitive). Frank Oz admitted that he wasn’t much of a children’s film director, and his hesitance to direct this film is apparent in the final product.
The story follows a 9-year-old named Omri (Scardino) and a magical cupboard given to him as a birthday gift. Omri doesn’t seem to have many friends and he doesn’t have the same interests as his brother. Perhaps this is because his parents gave him such a pretentious name. Whatever the reason, Omri soon discovers that he can create his own friends by placing toys into his cupboard, which has the amazing ability to bring inanimate objects to life. For whatever reason, Omri stays focused on a toy Indian, despite having Star Wars,
and Robocop toys at his disposal. Jurassic Park
Omri builds a friendship with the toy-sized Indian, a 19th Century Iroquois warrior named Little Bear (Litefoot), despite essentially treating the miniature person like one of his belongings. Eventually Omri makes friends with another young boy at school, though his insitance upon putting a cowboy into the cupboard brings the expected results. Throw in a loose rat and the missing cupboard key and that is the closest that The Indian in the Cupboard has to a climax.
In an attempt to cross-promote the new Goosebumps movie, the extras include a sneak peek, as well as the cast discussing their memories of The Indian in the Cupboard. Also exclusive to this Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release is a retrospective featurette, as well as an archival one and the film’s original theatrical trailers. Previously released but also included in this package is a commentary track from director Frank Oz. The Blu-ray disc is mastered in 4K, though there is not nearly enough visual excitement to make this impressive.
Entertainment Value: 5.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 5/10