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The Indian In The Cupboard
review by Ren C.
Running Time: 96 minutes
Starring Hal Scardino, Litefoot
Written by Melissa Mathison
Based on the novel by Lynne Reid Banks
Directed by: Frank Oz
Retail Price: $24.95
Features: Commentary, Photo Gallery, Trailers
Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full
Frame, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French Dolby
Digital 2.0 Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround,
English subtitles, French subtitles, Spanish subtitles,
Released: July 10th, 2001
When I first heard that the "Indian In the Cupboard" was
coming to theaters, I had mixed emotions. While I was
thrilled to learn that one of my favorite books as a child
was going to be made into a movie, I was also curious how
such an innovative and imaginative story would translate to
the big screen. For the most part, I needn't have worried.
"The Indian in the Cupboard" is a sweet, funny, and very
enjoyable movie for the whole family.
The movie tells the story of Omri, who has just turned
nine. We open on his birthday party where he receives two
presents that on their own aren't all that significant: a
wooden cupboard, and a plastic figure of an Indian. Omri's
mother finds a key that fits the lock of the cupboard, and
Omri innocently puts the figure in the cupboard over night,
having no idea that something magic is about to happen.
Omri wakes the next morning to the sound of a scraping
within the cupboard. He opens it to a very large shock-the
small plastic figure is now a flesh and blood human being.
The cupboard somehow has the power to make turn plastic
figures and toys into their real-life counterparts. This
leads into one of the greatest scenes in the movie, which is
taken almost directly from the book and expanded into
something even greater. If you ever wanted to see Darth
Vader fight a dinosaur while Robocop looks on, here is your
Little Bear (Litefoot), as we come to know him, at first
thinks that Omri is some sort of higher power. It is only
when Omri turns another plastic figure to take his weaponry,
causing him a heart attack, that Little Bear realizes that
Omri is only a child. Omri too quickly begins to realize
the responsibility that comes with this essentially god-like
power. As a result, he tells no one else about his secret,
with the exception of his friend Patrick (Rishi Bhat), who
is adamant that he be allowed to turn a figure of his own.
This results in Boone (David Keith), a Texas cowboy from the
late 18th century. Boone and Little Bear are immediately at
odds, and things go even further awry when Omri's brothers
steal his cupboard. Can Omri and Patrick recover the
cupboard and key before someone finds out about Little Bear
and Boone, or before something else goes horribly wrong?
I think what surprised me the most about this movie was
how very faithful it was to the book. Many movie
adaptations have either only been loosely based on the book,
or disregarded it entirely. However, having read the book
at least ten times over the years, I found myself looking on
with amazement as this story that previously only played out
in my mind was on the big screen. The special effects, done
by ILM, work especially well in getting across the point
that these are nine-year-old boys lording over three inch
people. While there were points in the movie that were a
little schmaltzy, overall the movie had the mood of the book
very much at heart, and was successful in getting it across.
Although the movie was not a box office smash, I would definitely
like to see the book's several sequels adapted as well.
This movie seems like it may have been overlooked, and I
would definitely advise anyone looking for a film the whole
family could enjoy giving it a look.
It looks as though there was no new work done on the
prints of the movie before it was transferred, and it shows
through in several places. There are some noticeable flaws
on the transfer in places with scratches and flaws.
However, these small imperfections are certainly not enough
to detract from the enjoyment of the movie, and the rest of
the transfer looks very good with the colors looking very
natural, if slightly subdued.
I was disappointed that there was no 5.1 option
available, however the Dolby surround track was more than
adequate. This certainly wasn't a loud effects movie by any
stretch, so the track more than conveyed the dialogue, and
the wonderful score by Randy Edelman.
Not a special edition, but not devoid of features either,
I must admit to being a little disappointed with the
features that were provided. The first "feature" that has
been provided is the ability to watch the movie in either
full frame or its original widescreen composition. I've
long since converted to being strictly a widescreen fan,
although I'm sure that full frame would be nice for parents
who don't particularly feel like explaining the black bars
to their children.
Next is an audio commentary with director Frank Oz. I'm
normally a fan of commentaries, but this track did little to
engage me. It seemed like Oz spent most of his time simply
describing what was happening on screen, only occasionally
lapsing into information that was somewhat relevant and
interesting. This was definitely not a memorable
commentary, but as always it was nice that it was provided.
A fairly sparse photo gallery is provided, with about ten
pictures of on-set action and the cast provided. I was
slightly annoyed that after the pictures cycled through, the
disc did not return to the menu, but started cycling through
again. The same is true of the filmographies, such as they
were, considering that they were only provided for three
individuals involved with the movie.
The disc wraps up with five "bonus trailers" for "Hook",
"Jumanji", "Fly Away Home", "Madeline" and "Muppets in
Space". However, no trailer is included for "The Indian in
the Cupboard" which is quite possibly the biggest annoyance
that a disc can give me. I don't care if the disc is the
most feature-loaded in the world, if the trailer is not
provided, it is not a perfect disc. Also, I couldn't find
the production notes listed on the disc case, as the menus
were some of the most boring I have ever seen, and the
insert is nothing more than a listing of the chapter stops.
While I appreciate the effort that Columbia put into this
disc, I was left wanting more after I finished the movie. A
few special effects featurettes would have been nice, or
something of that nature. However, the relative lack of
features doesn't prevent me from recommending the movie just
on sheer enjoyment value.
(4/5 - NOT included in
(3.5/5, NOT an average)